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|Title: ||Role of language in conceptual coordination|
|Authors: ||Laskowski, Cyprian Adam|
|Supervisor(s): ||Pickering, Martin|
|Issue Date: ||29-Jun-2011|
|Publisher: ||The University of Edinburgh|
|Abstract: ||Although concepts are located within individual minds, while word forms are shared
across entire language communities, words and concepts are normally deemed to be
tightly bound. But in fact, at least to the extent that concepts vary, the relationship
between words and concepts may not be as uniform or stable as is often assumed. Nevertheless,
language may itself mediate that relationship, through its entrenchment and
use. Psychologists have already investigated language use in referential communication,
but they have yet to focus in detail on the role of language in conceptual coordination.
One of the obstacles has been the theoretical and methodological challenges that arise
from seriously abandoning conceptual universals. To that end, an experimental framework
was developed based on sorting tasks in which participants freely partition a set
of stimuli into categories and an objective measure for comparing two outputs. Four
experiments were then conducted to investigate whether people were conceptually coordinated
before, during and after linguistic interaction.
Experiment 1 consisted of a cross-linguistic study looking at default coordination between
native speakers. Participants both sorted items into groups and named them individually.
There was a relatively high degree of categorisation agreement among speakers of
the same language, but not nearly as high as for naming agreement. Experiments 2-4
inquired into conceptual coordination during or immediately after linguistic interaction.
Experimental manipulations involved the form of language use (full dialogue or only
category labels), as well as the type of feedback (category groupings, labels, both, or
neither). In particular, Experiment 2 investigated the effects of categorising a set of objects
together, with or without dialogue, on subsequent individual categorisation. The results were inconclusive and revealed specific methodological issues, but yielded interesting
data and were encouraging for the general framework. Experiment 3 modified
the designwhile testing and extending the same general hypotheses. Participants carried
out a sequence of categorisation tasks in which they tried to coordinate their categories,
followed by individual categorisation and similarity tasks. The availability of dialogue
and feedback was manipulated in the interactive tasks. During interaction, they also
received both kinds of feedback, except in the control condition. Pairs that could talk
coordinated much better than the others, but feedback didn’t help. Experiment 4 looked
into the effects of the four possibilities for feedback during a longer sequence of interactive
tasks. In general, conceptual coordination was found to depend on grouping feedback
only. However, by the end of the task, pairs who received both kinds of feedback
did best. All three interactive experiments also measured lexical convergence between
pairs. The results generally revealed a dissociation, with lexical alignment showingmore
convergence and occurring under a wider variety of conditions.
Togetherwith previous research, these findings showthat language can bring about conceptual
coordination. However, it appears that the richer the form of language use, the
more conceptual convergence occurs, and the closer it gets coupled with lexical convergence.
The long-term effects, if any, are much weaker. These studies have implications
for the general role of language in cognition and other important issues.|
|Appears in Collections:||Linguistics and English Language PhD thesis collection|
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