📄 Alsott & Jasbi (2020). Lexicalization of quantificational forces in adverbial and determiner domains. Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. [PDF]
Which quantificational forces do languages encode lexically? When a language features multiple quantificational scales (e.g. determiner and adverbial quantification), does the pattern of lexicalization of quantificational forces we discover for one scale correlate with those of other scales? We use English as a first test case for examining these questions, adapting the basic ideas of Lewis (1975) into the hypothesis that English lexical quantifiers unrelated to cardinal numbers or definite descriptions, determiner and adverbial alike, have one of six quantificational forces. To begin to test this claim empirically, we elicited speaker interpretations of a range of quantifiers in a web-based study. Dividing participants into an adverbial condition and a determiner condition, we gave a context specifying a 100-day period and asked participants to judge the quantificational force of quantified sentences denoting an individual’s daily activities during this period. We found evidence of cross-scale correspondences but fewer quantificational forces than expected. These results provide preliminary evidence for parts of our hypothesis but suggest a need for future research that covers more lexical items, languages, and quantificational scales.
📕 Deutsch, Jasbi, & Shieber (2020). Linguistic Features for Readability Assessment. Proceedings of the ACL 15th Workshop on Innovative Use of NLP for Building Educational Applications [PDF]
Readability assessment aims to automatically classify text by the level appropriate for learning readers. Traditional approaches to this task utilize a variety of linguistically motivated features paired with simple machine learning models. More recent methods have improved performance by discarding these features and utilizing deep learning models. However, it is unknown whether augmenting deep learning models with linguistically motivated features would improve performance further. This paper combines these two approaches with the goal of improving overall model performance and addressing this question. Evaluating on two large readability corpora, we find that, given sufficient training data, augmenting deep learning models with linguistically motivated features does not improve state-of-the-art performance. Our results provide preliminary evidence for the hypothesis that the state-of-the-art deep learning models represent linguistic features of the text related to readability. Future research on the nature of representations formed in these models can shed light on the learned features and their relations to linguistically motivated ones hypothesized in traditional approaches.
📕 Jasbi (2020). The suffix that makes Persian nouns unique. In Richard K. Larson, Sedigheh Moradi, & Vida Samiian eds., Advances in Iranian Linguistics. 107 - 118. John Benjamins [PDF]
Altough it is widely acknowledged that Tehrani Persian (often broadly labeled as Persian) has no dedicated marker of definiteness, the nominal suffix "-e" has been analyzed as a colloquial definiteness marker. Here I show that "-e" can mark bare nominals to ensure a definite interpretation, but it can also appear on indefinites marked by the indefinite determiner "ye". I show that indefinites marked by "-e" are scopally inert. To unify the effect of "-e" on definites and indefinites, I propose that "-e" introduces a uniqueness implication on the nominal it modifies. More specifically, N-e denotes a singleton set of objects. On a bare nominal, this uniqueness implication ensures a definite interpretation. On an indefinite, it restricts the domain of quantification to a singleton, making the indefinite scopally inert. I present a compositional account of definite and indefinite constructions with "-e" in Tehrani Persian.
The past 15 years have seen increasing experimental investigations of core pragmatic questions in the ever more active and lively field of experimental pragmatics. Within experimental pragmatics, many of the core questions have relied on the operationalization of the theoretical notion of “implicature rate.” Implicature rate based results have informed the work on acquisition, online processing, and scalar diversity, inter alia. Implicature rate has typically been quantified as the proportion of “pragmatic” judgments in two-alternative forced choice truth value judgment tasks. Despite its theoretical importance, this linking hypothesis from implicature rate to behavioral responses has never been extensively tested. Here we show that two factors dramatically affect the “implicature rate” inferred from truth value judgment tasks: (a) the number of responses provided to participants; and (b) the linking hypothesis about what constitutes a “pragmatic” judgment. We argue that it is time for the field of experimental pragmatics to engage more seriously with its foundational assumptions about how theoretical notions map onto behaviorally measurable quantities, and present a sketch of an alternative linking hypothesis that derives behavior in truth value judgment tasks from probabilistic utterance expectations.
The development of the ubiquitous logical connectives "and" and "or" provides a window into the role of semantics and pragmatics in children's linguistic development. Previous research suggested that adults and children might differ in their interpretation of "or" in two ways. First, unlike adults, children might interpret "or" as "and". Second, children might interpret "or" as inclusive disjunction while adults interpret it as exclusive. We report experimental studies that probe interpretations of "and" and "or" in adults and children using truth value judgements and children's spontaneous linguistic feedback. Both measures showed that four-year-olds do not interpret "or" as "and". Children's truth judgments suggested that they did not derive exclusivity implicatures. Yet their corrective feedback showed signs of sensitivity to the implicature, suggesting that the truth judgement task could have underestimated children's pragmatic competence. More generally, four-year-olds' interpretation of logical connectives may not be as different from adults as previously supposed.
📄 Jasbi (2016). Three types of indefinites in Persian: Simple, Complex, and Antidefinite. In Mary Moroney, Carol-Rose Little, Dan Burgdorf, and Jacob Collard, eds., Proceedings of Semantics and Linguistic Theory 26, 244-263. Ithaca, NY: CLC Publications. [PDF]
This paper investigates three indefinite constructions in Persian: simple (ye-NP), complex (ye-NP-i), and antidefinite (NP-i). It shows that simple indefinites with the determiner ye carry an at-issue existence implication (|NP| ≥ 1), similar to their English counterpart with the indefinite determiner a(n). Complex indefinites with both ye and -i introduce an antisingleton implication (|NP| > 1), similar to Spanish indefinites with algún. Antidefinites with only the clitic -i are a novel category which trigger a projective non-uniqueness implication (|NP| ̸= 1). The paper provides a compositional account in which the antisingleton implication of complex indefinites is derived from the existence implication of the determiner "ye" and the non-uniqueness implication of the clitic "-i". The predictions of this account as well as the pragmatic effects of complex indefinites such as ignorance, indifference, free choice, and domain widening implications are discussed.
📄 Jasbi (2016). The Acquisition of Projective Content: Children's comprehension of the English presupposition trigger "too". In: J. Scott & D. Waughtal (Eds.), The 40th annual Boston University Conference on Language Development online proceedings supplement [PDF]