SEDSU at Lund University

Seminars
2006 Dec 21
15.15 - 17.00
HU339
Humanisthuset
Marianne Gullberg (Max Planck Institute for Pscyholinguistics, Nijmegen)
"Putting meaning in placement verbs: The development of semantic distinctions in Dutch children's speech and gesture".

Studies of both first and second language acquisition have largely focused on the acquisition of form over meaning. Surprisingly little is therefore known about how adult-/target-like the semantic systems of children and adult L2 learners are once forms are in use, and when and what changes take place. This study explores children’s development of verb meaning in the semantic domain of ‘placement’ or caused motion (‘putting things in places’). This domain is lexicalised differently crosslinguistically, either in general verbs like 'put' or in more fine-grained categories like the Dutch obligatory caused posture verbs zetten 'set' and leggen, 'lay'. The crosslinguistic differences in verb semantics are also reflected in language-specific adult gesture use (Gullberg, fortc.). This study examines Dutch four- and five-year-olds' acquisition of such caused posture verbs, showing that, despite the prevalence of the verbs in the input, the semantic distinctions cause problems even in later childhood. Moreover, children's gestures reveal something about the nature of the difficulties and their current semantic knowledge. Specifically, the gesture evidence suggests a transition from a single semantic distinction based on movement-only to an (adult-like) focus on object-and-movement. I will discuss the implications both for theories of word learning, and for studies of gesture development.


2006 Oct 5
16.15 - 18.00
318
Josephson-huset
Judy DeLoache (Department of Psychology, University of Virginia)
"From the innocent to the intelligent eye: The early development of pictorial competence".

Because pictures seem to be such a simple and transparent medium, most adults generally assume that children-even infants-will automatically comprehend them. I will review evidence from developmental research that reveals a very different reality. From infancy through the preschool years, children's behavior toward pictures reflects a variety of misunderstandings of the nature of the pictorial medium, ranging from a failure to fully appreciate how pictures differ from objects to misunderstandings about the relation between depictions and reality. Recent research on young children's learning of new information from different types of picture books will also be discussed.

Empirical support for this standpoint will be discussed, and finally, implications for language evolution will be drawn from the discussion.


2006 May 18
15.15 - 17.00
HU135a
SOL-centrum
Jordan Zlatev (Lund University) & Pam Heaton (Goldsmiths, University of London)
"Language, Mimesis and Autism".

Short version of abstract:
Cognitive theories attempting to explain autism fall into two different broad categories: (a) Those which propose a primary impairment in social cognition, e.g. Theory of Mind deficit (e.g. Baron-Cohen, 2000), impaired affective interconnectedness (Hobson, 2004), motivation for sharing deficit (Tomasello 2005) and (b) those which hypothesise a primarily non-social impairment, e.g. executive dysfunction (e.g. Hill, 2004), enhanced perceptual function (Mottron & Burack, 2001) and weak Central Coherence (Frith, 1989; Happe, 1999). Few, if any, have proposed a way of accounting for both the social and the non-social peculiarities of autistic cognition.

I will propose a model which accounts for all the different symptoms of autism, building on the concept of bodily mimesis (Zlatev 2005, in press, Zlatev, Persson and Gärdenfors 2005), which following Donald (1991, 2001) has been argued to serve as a ground for normal social-cognitive development in ontogeny and as an intermediary step in human cognitive evolution. The model is being developed together with Pamela Heaton.

The model states, in brief, that the core deficit in autism is an impairment in cross-modal integration. This would cause perceptual-motor abnormalities which affect negatively categorization (generalization) in development, and in particular bodily mimesis. Since language is (in our account) essentially post-mimetic, this developmental derailment will affect it negatively as well. Finally, an impairment in language development would further reduce the ability to form adequate (i.e. conventional) categories (concepts). We can also predict that this deficit would affect above all open domains with vaguer “rules” and much need for cross-modality such as imitation, aspects of social cognition involving the recognition of emotions and communicative intent and less formal aspects of language such semantics, pragmatics. On the other hand, relatively “closed domains” with simpler rules and less cross-modality, such as arithmetic, music, more formal aspects of language such as prosody and syntax are bound to be less affected.

Empirical support for this standpoint will be discussed, and finally, implications for language evolution will be drawn from the discussion.

Long version of abstract: [PDF]


2006 April 20
16.15 - 18.00
Avd. för Semiotik
room 316
Josephson-huset
Biskopsgatan 5
Kalevi Kull (Tartu University, Estland).
"Diversification: A biosemiotic approach".

Abstract:
1. Biosemiotic studies of some examples of diversification (biological speciation on the basis of the recognition concept of species; Baldwinian specialization; somatic differentiation; immunological learning) have given a useful framework for the understanding and description of the analogous phenomena in many semiotic systems. 2. Biological species, like any communicative category or identity, is not, strictly speaking, physically real. However, biological species as self-defining communicative identities are semiotically real, whereas they are different from higher-level biological taxa (genera, families, orders, classes, phyla, kingdoms) which are not self-defining. Thus, diversity of communicative identities, and its dynamics - divergence and fusion of identities - comprises a typical semiotic (and particularly biosemiotic) problem. 3. Large variety of semiotic selves, or communicative identities, or categories, can be seen as behaving in analogous ways due to their similar semiotic nature: these include, for instance, biological species, social groups, perceptual categories, etc. Consequently, it will also be reasonable to apply the same or similar models for description of dynamics of all these communicative identities. Such general models include, particularly, allopatric and sympatric categorisation, coexistence of categories, fusion of categories, distinction between self and other. Similarity of the phenomena also includes two basic forms of diversification - evolutionary (diachronic, vertical) and ecological (synchronic, horizontal). 4. Categorization requires space - the communicative substrate - provided either by population, or brain tissue, or society, etc. 5. Since, for instance, (a) making distinctions, and (b) speciation, are based on an analogous mechanism, it provides us a possibility of making use of our understanding of some biological phenomena for the further understanding of many psychical, social, and cultural phenomena - and vice versa. 6. Semiotics can be defined as the study of qualitative diversity.

Recomended reading:
 Copy versus translate, meme versus sign: development of biological textuality

 Organism as a self-reading text: anticipation and semiosis


2006 April 7
11.15 - 13.00
room 318
Kungshuset
Dr. Josep Call (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany).
"Causal knowledge and planning abilities in ape tool-use".

Abstract:
Research on ape tool-use in problem solving situations has historically contributed (and continues to contribute) in significant ways to the development of the area of comparative cognition. Two aspects that have received recent research attention are the causal knowledge and the planning skills underlying tool-use. It has been suggested that apes display serious limitations in each of these two aspects. First, chimpanzees appear to lack knowledge regarding the critical features of problems because they fail to take into account certain obstacles or the relation between objects and tools when trying to solve tasks. For instance, in the classical trap-tube task (Visalberghi & Limongelli, 1994) in which subjects have to use a tool to get an out-of-reach reward while avoiding a trap in which the food may fall, several studies have suggested that nonhuman animals have little or no understanding of the trap as a critical features of the problem. Instead, subjects learn to use certain heuristics to solve the task. Second, numerous theorists have suggested that planning skills in nonhuman animals are restricted to the immediate future – individuals perform actions for their immediate consequences to satisfy current needs, not future ones. In this talk I will present some evidence that questions our current conceptions on these two aspects, at least in their extreme versions.



2006 April 6
15.15 - 17.00
HU135b
SOL-centrum
Dr. Josep Call (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany).
"On the evolution of perspective taking".

Abstract:
The last decade has witnessed an unprecedented growth in the literature on perspective taking in nonhuman animals. Currently, we know that apes follow the gaze of conspecifics and humans behind barriers, "check back" with humans when gaze following does not yield interesting sights, and use gestures appropriately depending on the visual access of their recipient. In competitive situations, subordinate chimpanzees preferentially retrieve and approach food that dominants had not seen hidden, or reach for food from positions where they cannot be seen by competitors. Finally, apes preferentially seek information about the location of food when their visual access during the baiting process is prevented. Such a wealth of comparative information is beginning to make possible an analysis about the evolution of perspective taking using several animal taxonomic groups. In this talk, I will present our first attempt at such analysis.



2006 March 2
15.15 - 17.00
SOL-centrum
Prof. Martin J. Pickering (Psychology of Language and Communication, University of Edinburgh).
"Grammatical alignment between languages in bilinguals".

Abstract:
Although there has been much work on how bilinguals represent lexical information, there has been very little interest in how they represent grammatical information. To address this, I report a series of experiments in which bilingual interlocutors take turns to describe pictures to each other. We find that they tend to imitate each other's grammatical form between languages: For instance, they are more likely to produce an English passive after hearing a Spanish passive than after hearing a Spanish active (Hartsuiker, Pickering, & Veltkamp, 2004, Psychological Science). I discuss the conditions under which alignment can be enhanced or eliminated, and draw implications for the representation of grammatical knowledge in bilinguals and its implications for dialogue.



2006 Feb 16
16.15 - 18.00
Dept. of Semiotics
room 117
Wrangelhuset
Biskopsgatan 5
Prof. Göran Sonesson (Dept. of Semiotics, Lund University).
"From the meaning of embodiment to the embodiment of meaning: A study in phenomenological semiotics".

Abstract:
Unlike in much of the contemporary discussion of embodiment, phenomenology is really involved with the body as a kind of meaning appearing to consciousness; and it does not only attend to the body of the biological organism, but also to the kind of organism-independent artefacts which are required by some sign systems. Because it is concerned with meaning, phenomenology is akin to semiotics. From the point of view of the latter discipline, however, signs must be distinguished from other meanings, and clear criteria are needed for doing so. At least one such criterion can by found in the work of Piaget: differentiation. Meaning in the more general sense of organisation and selection is at the basis of the common sense world, and thus accounts for what is known in Cognitive Linguistics as “image schemas”. Cognitive Linguistics, just as biosemiotics, ignores this important distinction. Moreover, some cognitive linguists seem to deny the distinction between organism and environment, which must prevail if “image schemas” are to be acquired, along the lines of earlier conceptions of schematisation. On the basis of these considerations, a developmental sequence can be suggested going from schemas to signs and organism-independent artefacts.

Full text available as PDF.


2005 Dec 20
13.15 - 15.00
room 435
Humanisthuset
Per Durst-Andersen (CBS, Denmark).
"On the correlations between lexicon, grammar and syntax. Naming strategies, lexicalization patterns and syntactization mechanisms".

Abstract (word document).


2005 Dec 1
15.15 - 17.00
room 135b
Humanisthuset
Daniel Hutto (University of Hertfordshire).
"Our ancient endowment".

Abstract:
In light of what we know about the social intelligence of the great apes there must have been a cognitive upgrade of considerable magnitude at some stage during the hominid line that would account for basic human interactive abilities. A very popular view is that some kind of ‘theory of mind’ mechanism (or ToMM) accounts for this. Yet consideration of the evidence made available from cognitive archaeology this is a weak – indeed inadequate hypothesis. For example, it is neither needed to explain the levels of hominid social interaction and utterly fails to explain their remarkable technical advances and the kinds of intermediate imitative capacities, lying somewhere between that of apes and modern humans. In making a case for what I call the Mimetic Ability Hypothesis (MAH) I invoke the notion of the recreative imagination to offer a more promising account of what our ancient endowment is likely to have been. I conclude by demonstrating the MAH also promises a superior explanation of the kinds of shared interactions that would have made been necessary for the development of complex language, thereby undercutting the strongest other known argument for posting the existence of ancient ToMMs, i.e. the support they lend to intention-based semantics.


2005 Oct 13
15.15 - 17.00
room 135b
Humanisthuset
Jordan Zlatev (Department of Linguistics, Lund University).
"Bodily mimesis and the grounding of language".


2005 Sept 8
14.15 - 16:00
room 435
Humanisthuset
Alexander Kravchenko (English Department, Baikal National University of Economics and Law, Russia)
“Toward a new epistemology in the study of language and cognition”



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