How the language we speak guides the way we listen - Anne Cutler
Two people who hear exactly the same speech sounds will process them differently depending on what their own native language prepares them to expect.
This means that greater importance may be attached to some kinds of cues, while others are ignored. Thus, for example, cues to stress can be exactly the same in two languages, but in one language it is possible to get away with ignoring most of them, while in the other listeners need to use all the cues.
Each language trains its listeners in particular ways. Understanding how our own languages prompt us to listen for certain cues may allow us to predict problems as well as opportunities in second-language acquisition.
Biography: Professor Anne Cutler is a Chief Investigator of the Language Processing program of the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language. She studied languages and psychology at the Universities of Melbourne, Berlin and Bonn, taught German at Monash University, but embraced psycholinguistics as soon as it emerged as an independent sub-discipline, taking a PhD in the subject at the University of Texas. Postdoctoral fellowships at MIT and Sussex University followed, and from 1982 to 1993 a staff position at the Medical Research Council Applied Psychology Unit in Cambridge. In 1993 she became a director at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, a post she held till 2013. She was also professor of comparative psycholinguistics at the Radboud University Nijmegen from 1995 to 2013, and, from 2006 to 2013, part-time Research Professor in MARCS Auditory Laboratories. In 2013 she took up a full-time position at the MARCS Institute.
Learning a first language - Evan Kidd
Language is one the crowning cognitive achievements of our species. With seemingly little effort, children acquire and master the subtleties of complex facets of language like phonology, grammar, and meaning. In comparison, as adults most of us find it difficult to learn a second language, despite our mature memory and learning systems. For many years child language researchers argued that, because first language acquisition appears so effortless, children must come to the language learning problem with significant innate knowledge of language. As a result, less effort was channelled into investigating how much of language is learnable, and how. In my talk I will reframe the language acquisition process as one that involves significant learning, which starts remarkably early in the womb. In particular, I will show that children are highly skilled at detecting linguistic regularities in their environment, and that properties of interaction create socio‐cognitive ecologies ripe for language learning.
Biography: Evan Kidd is an Associate Professor in the Research School of Psychology at The Australian National University, and is a CI in the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language. He completed his PhD in Psycholinguistics at La Trobe University, and has held academic positions at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, The University of Manchester, and La Trobe University. His research concentrates on language acquisition and language processing across different languages and in different populations.