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Talk: Reference in Situated Language Comprehension (Everything you always wanted to know about pronouns, but were lucky enough not to ask)

December 6, 2017 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

This Wednesday, December 6, the Words in the World Partnered Training Research Initiative is hosting a Language / Psycholinguistics talk by Dr. Juhani Järvikivi (Words in the World Co-Principal Investigator, University of Alberta) in the Centre for Lifespan Development at Brock University. Coffee and cookies to follow!

DATE & TIME: Wednesday, December 6, 2017 | 3:00 pm
LOCATION: Plaza 600F, Brock University
SPEAKER: Dr. Juhani Järvikivi (Dept. of Linguistics, University ofAlberta)

Pronouns – those little words like it, that, or she – are among the most frequent words in natural conversations. We hear them a lot. Pronouns are special in that they are used to refer to something shared between the conversation partners without explicitly naming it [“Momma, why don’t you and Sister walk down to meet him?” – To my knowledge, Bailey’s name hadn’t been mentioned for hours, but we all knew whom he meant. (Angelou, 1969, I know why the caged bird sings)] — and they are often ambiguous [“Medicines can be harmful to young children. Make sure you keep them locked in the bathroom cabinet”]. Yet, in everyday conversation, we rarely have problems finding referents for pronouns when we process language – or at least we don’t notice this. In this talk, I will review some recent work from our lab that uses pronouns as a window to investigate the influence of visual context, stereotypes, affect, and world view on children’s and adults’ online language comprehension.

Juhani Järvikivi is Professor of Linguistics and Director of the Centre for Comparative Psycholinguistics at the University of Alberta. He is Co-Principal Investigator of the SSHRC Partnership Project “Words in the World” and Principal Investigator of the SSRHC Insight Project “Understanding Children’s Processing of Reference in Interaction”. He is Founding Director of STEP — The annual Spring Training in Psycholinguistics and Past President of the Nordic Association of Linguists.


December 6, 2017
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm


Brock University
1812 Sir Isaac Brock Way
St. Catharines, Ontario L2S 3A1 Canada
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