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Department of Comparative Language Science

Crosslinguistic Perspectives on Processing and Learning | X-PPL 2022

The Crosslinguistic Perspectives on Processing and Learning Workshop
brings together the growing community of researchers working to expand the diversity of languages in the scope of experimental or corpus research on adults or language acquisition. This research is driven by the recognition that structural/typological and socio-cultural diversity represents different opportunities to see processing and learning mechanisms at work.  The bulk of processing and acquisition research represents only a small fraction of linguistic diversity, and this risks skewing both our theories and research questions.
The Crosslinguistic Perspectives on Processing and Learning Workshop (X-PPL) aims to fill this gap and provide a platform for cross-linguistic research on language processing and learning. X-PPL 2022 will be hosted by the Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Language Evolution and the Department of Comparative Language Science at the University of Zurich, and will take place on September 12-13, 2022

Keynote speakers:

Day 1: Shanley Allen (Technical University Kaiserslautern)

How five hours of data can increase diversity in acquisition research:
The Sketch Acquisition Project with illustrations from Inuktitut

We currently have language acquisition data from only about 1.5% of the world’s languages. This severely hampers our effort to understand the process of language acquisition in its full diversity. In this talk, I will report on the Sketch Acquisition Project – an initiative to expand our knowledge of language acquisition by systematically documenting acquisition in previously unstudied languages, based on five hours of spontaneous speech data from children ages 2-4. I will then provide examples from Inuktitut showing how analyses based on this acquisition sketch data compare with analyses based on a larger and more comprehensive data set. The results strongly suggest that acquisition sketches can be an effective and reliable tool for increasing diversity in language acquisition research.


Day 2: Matthew Wagers (University of California, Santa Cruz)

Alignment, Reanalysis and Reencoding 

In this talk, I'll address the phenomenon of encoding interference and the circumstances under which it arises: when do two DPs interact in sentence processing, and how does their similarity relationship affect that interaction? I'll focus the discussion around the processing of relative clauses (RCs) with optional object resumptive pronouns (RPs) in Santiago Laxopa Zapotec (SLZ), an Oto-Manguean language of Oaxaca. SLZ is a verb-initial language whose ambiguous RCs consist of N - V - N sequences. RPs can be inserted to disambiguate - either in subject, or object position - but object RPs are unusually difficult to comprehend. In a series of judgment and eye-tracking experiments, we find that the similarity of the two DPs is a principal determinant of difficulty. We take this as evidence of encoding interference, which is somewhat surprising given the positional distinctness of the two nouns. Instead, we link the existence of encoding interference to reanalysis. Finally, the results from SLZ will be compared to similar, recent findings in other languages with optional object RPs (Hebrew) and ambiguous N - V - N RCs (Chamorro).



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The official Twitter hashtag for X-PPL 2022 is #X_PPL.

Meet for warm-up drinks on Sunday 11 September, 20:00 at Cafe Zähringer


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