Social Organisation of Autistic Individuals’ actions

Social Organisation of Autistic Individuals’ actions

Rachel CHEN Siew Yoong (Nanyang Technological University)

C3I meeting on 26/09/2014

Impairment in social interaction is generally regarded as a key criterion for the diagnosis of Autism (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Studies of Autistic individuals have noted their repetitive or stereotypical use of gestures as an indicator of their social impairment. (Mundy et al. 1986, Loveland et al. 1986, Silverman et al. 2010) Others examine their ability to imitate gestures (Aldridge et al., 2000; Ingersoll, 2005), but characterize it as idiosyncractic or inappropriate (Ham et al., 2008). Still other studies have questioned autistic individuals’ very possession of “communicative intent” (Kanner, 1943; Churchill, 1972; Rutter, 1984).
However, most data used in these studies were obtained in structured or quasi-structured sessions in an unfamiliar environment. Research has illustrated the importance of having a natural environment and familiar interlocutors (Theodorou et al., 2010) for the facilitation of spontaneous interactions of autistic individuals. Furthermore, there has been little understanding of the sequential location of their gestures within interaction, which limits our understanding of how their motor actions can be communicative. Close examination of autistic individuals’ interaction within a natural setting can therefore further our understanding of the way gestures may contribute to the performance of communicative actions.
In the present study, we analyse in some detail the nonverbal displays of autistic individuals in interaction with others, with an aim to assessing the extent to which their multimodal displays are oriented to by their co-participants as meaningful. Under investigation are several individuals in Singapore, each diagnosed with Autism, in a range of everyday activities at home and in other familiar environments. Video recordings of naturally occurring interactions were obtained and transcribed following Conversation Analysis (CA) conventions, which provides an analytical framework that allows for a deeper and more nuanced understanding of such encounters (Dobbinson, 2010).
The study found that some aspects of the individuals’ nonverbal behaviour which might otherwise be deemed idiosyncratic or self-stimulatory (‘stimming’) turned out on closer scrutiny to play a significant role in interaction, e.g., as a delaying device or to change the direction of an interactional sequence. Head movements, eye gazes and changes in body posture were also used selectively to meet communicative goals.
While many produced gestures involved directly manipulating another’s hand, (similar to findings by Stone et al., 1997), autistic individuals also produced a significant amount of spontaneous gestures such as pointing. During a game situation, an autistic individual not only jointly collaborated with his interlocutor by imitating, but also initiated new moves of his own, accompanied by smiling and shifts in eye gaze. These displays demonstrate their ability to comprehend their interlocutors’ communicative moves, and to use gestures to pursue communicative goals within interaction.
When considering where these actions occur within a sequential interaction, the gestures produced display their engagement with their interlocutors. They jointly build upon shared sequences, and are meaningful productions within their relevant contexts. Actions produced by the children were also found to be in fine-tuned coordination with those of their interlocutors within the dynamic interactions they were participating in. These and other examples suggest that one may attribute, with justification, more communicative intent to autistic individuals than has previously been acknowledged.

Seminar James German

REASSIGNMENT OF CONSONANT ALLOPHONES IN RAPID DIALECT ACQUISITION
James German
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

• Date(s) : 4/6/2013
• Heure / time : 14h30-15h30
• Lieu / location/notice : Salle de conférences, B011, LPL
5 av. Pasteur, Aix-en-Provence

Many recent studies have demonstrated the important role that phonetic
detail plays in the representation of word forms, particularly in
connection with late plasticity. These findings, however, need to be
reconciled with models that assume a prominent role for abstract
phonemic representations. This study (also reported in German, Carlson
& Pierrehumbert, 2013) explores this issue through a dialect imitation
paradigm, and seeks specifically to locate the production system
within a spectrum ranging from exemplar-based models to highly
abstract neo-generative models. In an experiment spanning a week,
American English speakers imitated a Glaswegian (Scottish) English
speaker. The target sounds were allophones of /t/ and /r/, as the
Glaswegian speaker aspirated word-medial /t/ but pronounced /r/ as a
flap initially and medially. This experiment therefore explored (a)
whether speakers could learn to reassign a sound they already produce
(flap) to a different phoneme, and (b) whether they could learn to
reliably produce aspirated /t/ in an unusual phonological context.
Speakers appeared to learn systematically, as they could generalize to
words which they had never heard the Glaswegian speaker pronounce. The
pattern for /t/ was adopted and generalized with high overall
reliability. For flap, there was a mix of categorical learning, with
the allophone simply switching to a different use, and parametric
approximations of the “new” sound. The positional context was clearly
important, as flaps were produced less successfully when word-initial.
And although there was variety in success rates, all speakers learned
to produce a flap for /r/ at least some of the time and retained this
learning over a week’s time. To explain these effects, we propose a
hybrid model of speech production that includes elements of both neo-
generative and exemplar models.

German, J. S., Carlson, K., & Pierrehumbert, J. B. (2013).
Reassignment of consonant allophones in rapid dialect acquisition.
Journal of Phonetics, 41(3), 228-248.

——
James Sneed German is an Assistant Professor in the Division of
Linguistics & Multilingual Studies at Nanyang Technological University
in Singapore. After receiving his Ph.D. in Linguistics from
Northwestern University in 2008, he worked as a postdoctoral
researcher at LPL within the framework of PRO-GRAM until 2010. His
major areas of interest include the prosody-semantics interface,
rational linguistic behavior (e.g., game-theoretic pragmatics), and
the role of non-linguistic contextual factors in the malleability and
dynamics of the sound-meaning mapping. The primary languages addressed
by this research include American English, Singapore English, French,
and Malay. Recent interdisciplinary collaborations have also led him
to explore the relationship between individual speaker factors and the
phonological system in the variability realized by voice
impersonators, and to explore how an understanding of the cognitive
representation of language can help to speed the development of low-
cost technology. James is currently visiting LPL through the support
of a grant from the Erasmus Mundus MULTI exchange program.

Seminar Ying Ying Tan

(Un)intelligibility: A phonetic question or is it a matter of attitude

Ying Ying Tan

Division of Linguistics and Multilingual Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

LPL (Aix-En-Provence): Feb 22nd, 11h, Conference Room

Slides

In this seminar, I present the results of a recent study conducted to elicit international responses to Singapore English (SgE), in terms of both intelligibility and attitudes toward the speaker, as compared to American English. One of the biggest concerns of educationists and language policy makers in Singapore is that SgE is not an “internationally acceptable English” (Singapore Ministry of Education, 2001), and is thus not intelligible to the other English speakers. The question however is: is SgE really unintelligible outside of Singapore? If SgE is to be viewed negatively, is it due to unintelligibility or could it be attitudes and perceptions toward this variety of English? There is, at present, very little research to show how well SgE is understood in international contexts, and even less investigating international attitudes towards the variety.It is therefore the aim of this paper to address the following questions, based on the responses of over 200 respondents from over 20 countries as they listen to a set of 15 sound recordings, including read SgE, spontaneous SgE, and read American English:

  1. How intelligible is SgE internationally and how does SgE compare to AmE in terms of intelligibility?
  2. What is the attitude toward SgE internationally and how does SgE compare to AmE in terms of attitudes toward these two varieties?

Using these results of this study, I hope to take the research forward in the future by looking at some possible phonetic features that may contribute to unintelligibility.

Speaker bio:

 Ying-Ying TAN is a sociophonetician who looks at how speech and accent, especially of individuals and communities in multilingual environments, encode social information. Outside of phonetics, she also works on language planning and policy, looking at how the State manages ethnolinguistic diversity and engineers multilingual individuals through language, education and media policies. Her articles have appeared in journals such as The International Journal of the Sociology of Language, Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, Journal of Pragmatics, and English World-wide. She has recently been awarded the Fung Global Fellowship by Princeton University, and will spend the 2013/14 academic year at Princeton.

MULTI day @ Laboratoire Parole et Langage

Multi day – Natural Language Processing and more
Laboratoire et Parole et Langage
January 29th, Room B011 (Salle de conférence)
9:30-9:45 Welcome and Introduction9:45-10:30 Approximate alignment of underspecified semantic structures for cross-lingual disambiguation 
Mathieu Morey (Ex-Post-Doc Erasmus Mundus at Nanyang Technological University, currently at LIF)10:30-11:00 Neologism Detection of Modern Chinese in Taiwan: A corpus-based study of PTT
Tsun-Jui Liu (Master Erasmus Mundus, National Taiwan University)

11:00-11:15 Pause Café
11:15-12:00 Chinese Words Segmentation and French Multiword Expressions : Same Differences ?
Pierre Magistry (Post-Doc Erasmus Mundus Candidate, Alpage)12:00-12:30 Verbs of interpersonal manipulation and causation in Mayrinax Atayal
Yu-Chih Lin (Master Erasmus Mundus, National Taiwan University)

Phonetic variants of ethnicity, age, education and socioeconomics status in a multilingual context

Talk given at the Laboratoire Parole et Langage on Dec 2nd, 2011.

TAN Ying Ying (Nanyang Technological University)

——
In linguistic ecologies where multiple languages co-exist and language
contact creates language variation and language change, the process of data
collection is complicated by a set of factors that will need careful
manipulation and consideration. This talk aims to highlight some linguistic
complexities that need to be considered in a multilingual context such as
Singapore, where its linguistic ecology consists of over 20 different languages
and its population almost entirely multilingual. Besides presenting an overview
of the linguistic situation in Singapore, I will also present the findings of a
few of my studies on prosody, ethnic accent perception and a sociophonetic
study of rhotics in Singapore English, and argue that there are phonetic
variants, both in production and perception, that are closely correlated to
ethnicity, age, education and socioeconomic status. Given such complexities,
one could ask what then is the possibility and feasibility of building a speech
recognition system for Singapore. And in the age where there is an increasing
need to profile speakers by the way they speak, one could also ask how these
phonetic variants will complicate matters in a multilingual context such as
Singapore. These are some of the questions that I would like to pose as future
research possibilities.

slides