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February 14, 2009 - Differences in early gesture explain SES disparities in child vocabulary size at school entry. Children from low-socioeconomic status (SES) families, on average, arrive at school with smaller vocabularies than children from high-SES families. In an effort to identify precursors to, and possible remedies for, this inequality, we videotaped 50 children from families with a range of different SES interacting with parents at 14 months and assessed their vocabulary skills at 54 months. We found that children from high-SES families frequently used gesture to communicate at 14 months, a relation that was explained by parent gesture use (with speech controlled). In turn, the fact that children from high-SES families have large vocabularies at 54 months was explained by children's gesture use at 14 months. Thus, differences in early gesture help to explain the disparities in vocabulary that children bring with them to school.
January 2009 - Verbal working memory and language production: Common approaches to the serial ordering of verbal information.
Verbal working memory (WM) tasks typically involve the language production architecture for recall; however, language production processes have had a minimal role in theorizing about WM. A framework for understanding verbal WM results is presented here. In this framework, domain-specific mechanisms for serial ordering in verbal WM are provided by the language production architecture, in which positional, lexical, and phonological similarity constraints are highly similar to those identified in the WM literature. These behavioral similarities are paralleled in computational modeling of serial ordering in both fields. The role of long-term learning in serial ordering performance is emphasized, in contrast to some models of verbal WM. Classic WM findings are discussed in terms of the language production architecture. The integration of principles from both fields illuminates the maintenance and ordering mechanisms for verbal information.
Understanding and use of phrasal verbs and idioms in medical/nursing texts. Phrasal verbs and idioms are frequently used in everyday English. They are also used in more specific language as equivalents for special terms. The use of phrasal verbs and idioms by native patients and health care workers makes their communication easier and less confusing. Non-native medical workers often come across with English phrasal verbs (idioms) in authentic texts and communication. They should be able to recognize them and after analyzing their meaning include them into their own active vocabulary. Bratisl Lek Listy.
February 14, 2009 - Empirical distributional semantics: methods and biomedical applications. Over the past 15 years, a range of methods have been developed that are able to learn human-like estimates of the semantic relatedness between terms from the way in which these terms are distributed in a corpus of unannotated natural language text. These methods have also been evaluated in a number of applications in the cognitive science, computational linguistics and the information retrieval literatures. The available methodologies for derivation of semantic relatedness from free text, as well as their evaluation in a variety of biomedical and other applications have been reviewed. Recent methodological developments, and their applicability to several existing applications are also discussed. J Biomed Inform.