LINGUIST List 7.1746

Tue Dec 10 1996

Sum: Generativity

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  1. N. Chipere, SUM: Generativity

Message 1: SUM: Generativity

Date: Fri, 6 Dec 1996 20:23:23 +0000 (GMT)
From: N. Chipere <nc206hermes.cam.ac.uk>
Subject: SUM: Generativity

On November 4 I wrote


> I am looking for references to past or on-going research on evidence
> for syntactic generativity, or lack of it, among native speakers of
> any language, though I have a particular interest in English. I am
> also interested in correlations between education and linguistic
> capacity.

Thanks to:

John Grinstead
Catherine Ball
Georgia Green
Sherri Condon

for comments and suggestions, and

Ewa Dabrowska for references. Rather than annotate the bibliography,
which is long, I've summarised the main points of my literature review
(1 page). Hopefully this summary can serve as a guide to the
bibliography for those interested in the topic.


Summary

Adult native users of a language are assumed to have the competence to
understand and produce sentences of infinite syntactic
complexity. This competence takes the form of an innate generative
system of phrase structure rules which is uniform for all mature
language users (see Chomsky, 1965). However, it has been observed in
numerous experiments that there are certain types of sentence which
native users of a language either cannot comprehend or have extreme
difficulty in doing so. It has also been observed that native users of
a language differ in their ability to decode syntax. The classical
account for both observations is that syntax is computed by a finite
working memory: if the syntactic complexity of a sentence exceeds
working memory capacity, the sentence cannot be assigned a structural
description and therefore cannot be comprehended. The fact that native
users of a language cannot understand certain constructions can
therefore be explained in terms of limitations in working memory. By
the same token, individual differences in syntactic ability can be
explained in terms of individual differences in working memory
capacity. This competence versus performance view of language
comprehension depends on two main assumptions: a) that comprehending a
sentence involves generating a syntactic description of it in working
memory by using phrase structure rules and b) that working memory has
a small and fixed capacity. However, subsequent developments in
linguistic theory and psychology undermine these assumptions and the
theory which depends on them.

Linguistic theories appear to have largely abandoned phrase structure
rules (eg Word Grammar, HPSG and GB, other linguistic traditions, such
as the fithian school, have always made use of multiword
sequences). In much of current linguistic theory, the syntactic
structures previously generated by phrase structure rules are now
simply listed in the lexicon as part of the structure of individual
lexical items. Lexical structure includes both the argument structure
of a verb as well as its semantic interpretation in the form of
thematic structure. By implication, comprehending a sentence does not
require syntactic structures to be generated in working memory.
Instead, what is required is to access lexical structures from the
lexicon (Chomsky, 1986). In psycholinguistic terms, this translates to
describing comprehension as a process of retrieving lexical
information from long term memory.

In a separate development, it is now being argued in psychology that
the capacity of working memory is not fixed, but rather depends partly
on the efficiency with which information can be read from and written
to long term memory. Efficient access to long term memory requires
that there be `retrieval structures' which allow information to be
stored and retrieved rapidly and accurately (see Kintsch and Ericsson,
1995). Individual differences in working memory capacity, such as the
ability to recall the positions of chess pieces on a chess board, are
related to the existence of such retrieval structures in long term
memory. Chess experts have more developed retrieval structures and
strategies than chess novices and therefore possess larger working
memory capacities for chess. If a parallel can be drawn between
`retrieval structures' in, for instance, chess and lexical structures
in language (putting text structures aside for the moment), then there
is a logical possibility that limitations in working memory for
language are, to a certain extent, limitations in an individual's
lexicon (i.e. linguistic knowledge in long term memory). This much is
indicated by a number of experimental studies in which it is argued
that native speakers of a language differ in their ability to perceive
and use linguistic structure during comprehension. Differences in
linguistic knowledge (if linguistic knowledge = lexical structure and
lexical structure = retrieval structure) might therefore manifest as
differences in linguistic working memory capacity. In sum, there is
good evidence that linguistic knowledge is neither generative (in the
classical sense) nor uniformly possessed by its speakers. Rather,
many of the studies cited below characterise language ability as an
acquired skill which displays many of the attributes common to other
skills.

The literature is organised into sections which correspond
roughly to the sequence of ideas in the summary. 


Bibliography


1. The Competence vs. Performance Distinction


Chomsky, N (1965). Aspects of the Theory of Syntax. MIT
Press.


2. Replacing Phrase Structure Rules with Lexical Structures/
Multi- Word Units


Andrews, A. (1988). Lexical Structure. In F. Newmeyer (ed.)
Linguistics: The Cambridge Survey. I Linguistic Theory:
Foundations. Cambridge.

Chomsky, N. (1986). Knowledge of Language: Its Nature,
Origin and Use. Praeger, New York.

Fillmore, C.J. (1979). On Fluency. In Fillmore, C.J.,
Kempler, D. and W. Wang (eds.) Individual Differences in
Language Ability and Language Behaviour. New York: Academic Press.

Pawley, A. and F. H. Syder (1983). Two puzzles for
linguistic theory: nativelike selection and nativelike
fluency. In Jack C. Richards and R.W. Schmidt (eds.)
Language and Communication. London and New York: Longman,
pp. 191-226


3. The Role of Long Term Memory in Working Memory


Ericsson, A. and W. Kintsch (1995). Long-Term Working
Memory. Psychological Review, 102, 211-245. (This is the
source of many of the references below on memory)


4. Examples of Exceptional Working Memory Capacity in
Skilled Activities


Charness, N. (1976). Memory for chess positions: Resistance
to interference. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human
Learning and Memory, 2, 641-653.

Charness, N. (1979). Components of skill in bridge. Canadian
Journal of Psychology, 33, 1-6.

Charness, N. (1981a). Aging and skilled problem solving.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 110, 21-38.

Charness, N. (1981b). Search in chess: Age and skill
differences. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human
Perception and Performance, 7, 467-476.

Charness, N. (1989). Expertise in chess and bridge. In D.
Klahr & K. Kotovsky (Eds.), Complex information processing:
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Erlbaum.

Charness, N. (1991). Expertise in chess: The balance between
knowledge and search. In K. A. Ericsson & J. Smith (Eds.),
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(pp. 39-63). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Chase, W. G., & Simon, H. A. (1973). The mind's eye in
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Chiesi, H.L. Spilich, G. and J.F. Voss (1979). Application
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Domain Knowledge. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal
Behaviour. 18, 257-273.

Cooke, N. J., Atlas, R. S., Lane, D. M., & Berger, R. C.
(1993). Role of high-level knowledge in memory for chess
positions. American Journal of Psychology, 106, 321-351.

Deakin, J. M., & Allard, F. (1991). Skilled memory in expert
figure skaters. Memory & Cognition, 19, 79-86.

Engle, R. W., & Bukstel, L. H. (1978). Memory processes
among bridge players of differing expertise. American
Journal of Psychology, 91, 673-689.

Ericsson, K. A., & Chase, W. G. (1982). Exceptional memory.
American Scientist, 70, 607-615.

Ericsson, K. A. (1985). Memory skill. Canadian Journal of
Psychology, 39, 188-231.

Ericsson, K. A. (1988a). Analysis of memory performance in
terms of memory skill. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), Advances in
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179).

Ericsson, K.A., Chase, W.G., and S. Faloon (1980).
Acquisition of a memory skill. Science, 208, 4448, 1181-1182

Frey, P. W., & Adesman, P. (1976). Recall memory for
visually presented chess positions. Memory and Cognition, 4,
541-547.

Kauffman, W.H. and C.J.Carlsen (1989). Memory for intact
musical works: The importance of music expertise and
retention interval. Psychomusicology, 8, 1, 3-20.

Kliegl, R., Smith, J., Heckhausen, J. and and P.B. Baltes
(1987). Mnemonic training of skilled didit memory. Cognition
and Instruction, 4, 4, 203-223.

Koltanowski, G. (1985). In the dark.Coraopolis, PA: Chess
Enterprises.

Korkel, J. and W. Schneider. (1991). Domain-specific versus
metacognitive knowledge effects on text recall and
comprehension. In Carretero, M., Pope, M.L., Simons, R.J.,
and J.I. Pozzo (eds.) Learning and Instruction: European
research in an interactional context, 3, 311-323.

McKeithen, K. B., Reitman, J. S., Rueter, H. H., & Hirtle,
S. C. (1981). Knowledge organization and skill differences
in computer programmers. Cognitive Psychology, 13, 307-325.

Morrow, D., Leirer, V., Alteiri, P. and C. Fitzsimmons
(1994). When expertise reduces age differences in
performance. Psychology and Aging, 9, 1, 134-148.

Reitman, J. (1976). Skilled perception in go: Deducing
memory structures from inter-response times. Cognitive
Psychology, 8, 336-356.

Saarilouma, P. (1989). Chess players' recall of auditorily
presented chess positions. European Journal of Cognitive
Psychology, 1, 309-320.

Saarilouma, P. (1991a). Visuo-spatial interference and
apperception in chess. In R. H. Logie & M. Denis (Eds.),
Mental images in human cognition (pp. 83-94). Amsterdam:
Elsevier Science Publishers.

Saarilouma, P. (1991b). Aspects of skilled imagery in
blindfold chess. Acta Psychologica, 77, 65-89.

Schneider, W., Gruber, H., Gold, A. and and K. Opwis
(1993). Chess expertise and memory for chess positions in
children and adults. Journal of Experimental Child
Psychology, 56, 3, 328-249.

Sloboda, J. (1976). Visual perception of musical notation:
Registering pitch symbols in memory. Quarterly Journal of
Experimental Psychology, 28, 1-16.

Staszewski, J. J. (1988a). The psychological reality of
retrieval structures: An investigation of expert knowledge
(Doctoral dissertation, Cornell University, 1987).
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Staszewski, J. J. (1988b). Skilled memory and expert mental
calculation. In M. T. H. Chi, R. Glaser, & M. J. Farr
(Eds.), The nature of expertise (pp. 71-128). Hillsdale, NJ:
Erlbaum.


5. The Contribution of Expertise/Familiarity to Working
Memory for Language


Ericsson, K. A. (1988b). Concurrent verbal reports on text
comprehension: A review. Text, 8, 295-325.

Gathercole, S.E. and A.M. Adams. (1994). Children's
phonological knowledge: Contributions of long term
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33, 5, 672-688.

Gathercole, S. E. (1995). Is non-word repetition a test of
phonological memory or long-term knowledge? It all depends
on the non-words. Memory and Cognition, 23, 1, 83-94.

Hulme, C. and S. Maugham (1991). Memory for Familar and
Unfamiliar words: Evidence for a Long-Term Memory
Contribution to short Term Memory. Journal of Memory and
Language, 30, 685-701.

Hulme, C., Roodenrys, S.,Brown, G. and R. Mercer (1995). The
role of long-term memory mechanisms in memory span. British
journal of Psychology, 86, 4, 527-536.

Jurden, F. and H.W. Reese (1992). Educational context
differences in prose recall in adulthood. Journal of Genetic
Psychology, 153, 3, 275-291.

Korkel, J. and W. Schneider. (1991). Domain-specific versus
metacognitive knowledge effects on text recall and
comprehension. In Carretero, M., Pope, M.L., Simons, R.J.,
and J.I. Pozzo (eds.) Learning and Instruction: European
research in an interactional context, 3, 311-323.

Lewellen, M.J., Goldinger, S.D., Pisoni, D.B. and B.G.
Greene (1993). Lexical familiarity and processing
efficiency: Individual differences in naming, lexical
decision and semantic categorisation. Journal of
Experimental Psychology General, 122, 3, 316-330

Masson, M. E. J., & Miller, J. A. (1983). Working memory and
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Recht, D. R., Leslie, L. (1988). Effect of prior knowledge
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Schneider, W. (Wolfgang), Krkel, J., & Wienert, F. E.
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Spillich, G. J., Vesonder, G. T., Chiesi, H. L., & Voss, J.
F. (1979). Text processing of domain related information for
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Tardieu, H., Erhlich, M. and V. Gyselink (1992). Levels of
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Yu, B., Jing, Q., & H.A. Simon (1985). STM span for Chinese
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6. Individual Differences in Syntactic Skill

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Cupples, L. and V.M. Holmes (1992). Evidence for a
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Skilled Adult Readers. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research,
21, 4, 249-275

Dabrowska, E. (submitted). The LAD Goes to School: A
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Denner, B. (1970). Representational and Syntactic Competence
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Gernsbacher, M.A. (1990). Language Comprehension as
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Gleitman, L.R. and Gleitman, H. (1970). Phrase and
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Gleitman, L.R. and Gleitman, H. (1979). Language Use and
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Jackson, M.D. (1980) Further evidence for a relationship
between memory access and reading ability. Journal of verbal
Learning and Verbal Behaviour, 19, 683-694.

Jurden, F. and H.W. Reese (1992). Educational context
differences in prose recall in adulthood. Journal of Genetic
Psychology, 153, 3, 275-291.

Lewellen, M.J., Goldinger, S.D., Pisoni, D.B. and B.G.
Greene (1993). Lexical familiarity and processing
efficiency: Individual differences in naming, lexical
decision and semantic categorisation. Journal of
Experimental Psychology General, 122, 3, 316-330

Levin, H. and E.L. Caplan (1970). Grammatical structure and
reading. In H. Levin and J.P. Williams (eds.) Basic Studies
in Reading. Basic Books, New York, pp. 119-133.

Mason, M. (1980). Reading ability and the encoding of item
and location information. Journal of Experimental
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Masson, M. E. J., & Miller, J. A. (1983). Working memory and
individual differences in comprehension and memory of text.
Journal of Educational Psychology, 75, 314-318

Mills, J.A. and G.D. Hemsley (197?). The Effect of Level of
Education On Judgements of Grammatical Acceptability.

Morais, J. and R. Kolinsky (1995). The consequences of
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Muncer, S. J. and T. G. Bever (1984). Sensitivity to
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Pearlmutter, N.J. and M.C. MacDonald (1995). Individual
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Sanders, L.J. (1971) The Comprehension of Certain Syntactic
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Scholes, R.J. and B.J. Willis (1987). The illiterate native
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van Metre, P.D. (1978). The Syntax of Bilingual Children: A
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the Rocky Mountain Educational Research Association.


7. Constructions which Native Speakers of English Generally
Have Difficulty With

Blaubergs, M. and M. Braine (1974). Short-Term Memory
Limitations On Decoding Self-Embedded Sentences. Journal of
Experimental Psychology 102, (4), 745-748.

Blumenthal, A. (1966). Observations with self-embedded
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Cheung, H. and S. Kemper. (1992). Competing Complexity
Metrics and Adults' Production of Complex Sentences. Applied
Psycholinguistics, 13, 1, 53-76.

Dabrowska, E. (submitted). The LAD Goes to School: A
Challenge for Nativism.

Powell, A. and R.G. Peters (1973). Semantic Clues in
Comprehension of Novel Sentences. Psychological Reports, 32,
1307-1310.

Stolz, W. (1967). A Study of the Ability to Decode
Grammatically Novel Sentences. Journal of Verbal Learning
and Verbal Behaviour 6, 867-873.


 
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