LINGUIST List 9.1506

Wed Oct 28 1998

Qs: Cognition, Transcription, Applicatives

Editor for this issue: Jody Huellmantel <>

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  1. garyjaz, Brains and theories of cognition
  2. Uri Horesh, Electronic Transcription Courses
  3. Heather Littlefield, Fulani/Pular Applicatives/Extensions

Message 1: Brains and theories of cognition

Date: Sun, 25 Oct 1998 21:20:51 GMT
From: garyjaz <>
Subject: Brains and theories of cognition

I am doing some research on the intersection of neuroscience and
second language acquisition. I'v become interested in knowing why
anyone interested in cognition should pay attention to research in the
neurosciences. Some reasons that I've run across include the

a.) Most of the knowledge we are discovering about the brain and
language comes from neuroimaging techniques. To understand how these
techniques work it is necessary to have some understanding of the
smaller levels of the brain.

b.) These techniques have improved to the point where they can be
useful in the testing of the validity of theoretical claims.

c.) Learning anything like a second language involves changes in the
microanatomical structure of the brain. Hence to understand learning
we need to look at the smaller levels of the brain. A potentially
practical application of this pursuit is that it will lead to better
the design of better learning environments that are suited to our
computational abilities.

d.) Finally, a neuroscientific perspective can impose constraints on
the shape of a theory by requiring that it be neurally plausible.

I have a question about reason b. Exactly how can a picture of a
brain test the validity of some theory? Can someone give me an
example from any field?

Also, I have a question about reason d. Can someone give me an
example of a theory of some aspect of cognition (like vision or
language, etc.) that is neurally plausible and one that is not?

It seems to me that many of the authors I encounter assume that
knowledge of the brain is a good thing, and they don't develop reasons
why this is so. Please email me if you would like a clarification
about something I've written. 

gary jasdzewski

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Message 2: Electronic Transcription Courses

Date: Mon, 26 Oct 98 06:30:52 -0000
From: Uri Horesh <>
Subject: Electronic Transcription Courses

This coming spring, Professors Shlomo Izre'el of Tel Aviv University and 
Benjamin Hary of Emory University will be supervising a graduate seminar 
(at Tel Aviv University) dealing with the synchronic analysis of Israeli 
Hebrew. This seminar is expected to lead to a much broader project 
involving recording, transcribing and analyzing a large-scale corpus of 
spoken, contemporary Israeli Hebrew.

For the sake of training the graduate students and research assistants 
involved, we are seeking good electronic courses (either on-line or as 
stand-alone software packages) for teaching linguists and students of 
linguistics the skills of transcription. Preferably, such courses should 
focus on IPA transcription and include hands-on training in hearing 
sounds (separately and within words or phrases), transcribing them and 
correcting errors made by the user.

We would appreciate any suggestions for courses which (in full or in 
part) fit the above description. Kindly reply to 
<>, and I will post a summary on LINGUIST after 
several responses are accumulated.

Thank you,
Uri Horesh
Dept. of Hebrew & Semitic Languages
Tel Aviv University
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Message 3: Fulani/Pular Applicatives/Extensions

Date: Mon, 26 Oct 98 15:20:13 -0500
From: Heather Littlefield <>
Subject: Fulani/Pular Applicatives/Extensions

I'm interested in applicatives/extensions in Pular (Fulani) and am 
looking for any information or sources. I have found all of the 
descriptive articles and general grammars with chapters/sections on 
applicatives, but I have not yet found any papers which are theoretic in 
nature. If you have leads, papers, comments or interest in this subject 
please let me know at the following address: (I have 
read Bresnan, Mchombo, Alsina, Baker etc. and am familiar with the Bantu 
data and questions...)

I look forward to hearing from you,

Heather Littlefield
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