The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Colloquium 3/18 - Naomi Feldman

Speaker: Naomi Feldman (University of Maryland)
Modeling language outside of the lab
Time: Friday, 03/18/2016, 3:30-5:00 pm
Venue: 32D-461

Speakers and listeners operate in complex linguistic environments. They extract phonetic information from highly variable speech signals and track the salience of entities in rich discourse contexts. However, little is known about the representations that support language use in these complex environments. In this talk, two cognitive models that were developed for laboratory settings are modified to operate over more naturalistic corpora. A rational speaker model is used to predict how entities are referred to in news articles, and a model of speech perception is trained and tested directly on speech recordings. In each case, simulation results show how cognitive modeling can be used to probe the way in which speakers and listeners represent the complexity of their linguistic environment.