Publications

📄 Jasbi, Bermudez, Davidson (2023). Default biases in the interpretation of English negation, conjunction, and disjunction. Proceedigs of Experiments in Linguistic Meaning. [PDF]

Previous research has hypothesized default interpretive biases for three types of ambiguities with English logical words and, or, and not. First, disjunction (A or B) is hypothesized to be biased towards an exclusive interpretation in upward-entailing environments and an inclusive interpretation in downward-entailing environments (Levinson 2000, Chierchia 2004, Breheny et al. 2005). A negated disjunction (not A or B) is claimed to be biased towards a “neither-nor” interpretation (i.e. wide scope negation: ¬[A ∨ B]) and a negated conjunction is said to be biased towards an “either-not” interpretation (i.e. wide-scope negation: ¬[A ∧ B]) (Szabolcsi 2002, Szabolcsi & Haddican 2004). We tested these hypotheses within the same experimental paradigm with 149 English-speaking participants and found disjunction to be biased towards an inclusive interpretation across three different entailment environments: episodic declaratives, questions, and conditional antecedents. Our results also confirmed that English negated disjunction is biased towards a “neither-nor” (wide scope negation) interpretation but the results did not show an “either-not” bias (wide scope negation) for negated conjunction.

📄 Jasbi, Jaggi, Clark, & Frank (2022). Context-Dependent Learning of Linguistic Disjunction. Journal of Child Language. [PDF]

What are the constraints, cues, and mechanisms that help learners create successful word-meaning mappings? This study takes up linguistic disjunction and looks at cues and mechanisms that can help children learn the meaning of or. We first used a large corpus of parent-child interactions to collect statistics on or uses. Children started producing or between 18-30 months and by 42 months, their rate of production reached a plateau. Second, we annotated for the interpretation of disjunction in child-directed speech. Parents used or mostly as exclusive disjunction, typically accompanied by rise-fall intonation and logically inconsistent disjuncts. But when these two cues were absent, disjunction was generally not exclusive. Our computational modeling suggests that an ideal learner could successfully interpret an English disjunction (as exclusive or not) by mapping forms to meanings after partitioning the input according to the intonational and logical cues available in child-directed speech.

📄 Jasbi & Frank (2021). Adults’ and Children’s Comprehension of Linguistic Disjunction. Collabra: Psychology. [PDF]

Previous research has hypothesized default interpretive biases for three types of ambiguities with English logical words and, or, and not. First, disjunction (A or B) is hypothesized to be biased towards an exclusive interpretation in upward-entailing environments and an inclusive interpretation in downward-entailing environments (Levinson 2000, Chierchia 2004, Breheny et al. 2005). A negated disjunction (not A or B) is claimed to be biased towards a “neither-nor” interpretation (i.e. wide scope negation: ¬[A ∨ B]) and a negated conjunction is said to be biased towards an “either-not” interpretation (i.e. wide-scope negation: ¬[A ∧ B]) (Szabolcsi 2002, Szabolcsi & Haddican 2004). We tested these hypotheses within the same experimental paradigm with 149 English-speaking participants and found disjunction to be biased towards an inclusive interpretation across three different entailment environments: episodic declaratives, questions, and conditional antecedents. Our results also confirmed that English negated disjunction is biased towards a “neither-nor” (wide scope negation) interpretation but the results did not show an “either-not” bias (wide scope negation) for negated conjunction.

📄 Liu & Jasbi (2021).English Negative Constructions and Communicative Functions in Child Language. Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. [PDF]

How does abstract linguistic negation develop in early child language? Previous research has suggested that abstract negation develops in stages and from more concrete communicative functions such as rejection, prohibition, or non-existence. The evidence for the emergence of these functions in stages is mixed, however, leaving the possibility that negation is an abstract concept from the beginning that can serve multiple specific functions depending on early communicative environment. Leveraging automatic annotations of large-scale child speech corpora in English, we examine the production trajectories of seven negative constructions that tend to convey communicative functions previously discussed in the literature. The results demonstrate the emergence and gradual increase of these constructions in child speech within the age range of 18-36 months. Production mostly remains stable, regular, and close to parents’ levels after this age range. These findings are consistent with two hypotheses: first, that negation starts as an abstract concept that can serve multiple functions from the beginning; and second, that negation develops in stages from specific communicative functions but this development is early and quick, leaving our corpus methods incapable of detecting them from the available corpus data.

📄 Jasbi, McDermott-Hinnman, Davidson, Carey (2021). Parents' and Children's Production of English Negation. Proceedings of The 45th annual Boston University Conference on Language Development. Danielle Dionne and Lee-Ann Vidal Covas, 360-373. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press. [PDF]

Previous research has proposed several stages for children’s production of negative morphemes. For example, Cameron-Faulkner, Lieven, and Theakston (2007) proposed that English negative morphemes appear with a no>not>n’t order in children’s speech. Klima and Bellugi (1966) proposed that negation first appears outside the sentence and later moves inside between the subject and the verb. They also proposed that can’t and don’t are learned as unanalyzed wholes before their positive auxiliary variants. However, comprehension studies have not provided evidence for such stages yet (Austin et al. 2014; Feiman et al. 2017; Reuter, Feiman, and Snedeker 2018). This discrepancy can be explained in two ways. First, the lack of evidence may be due to limitations in comprehension studies. Second, the proposed stages may be limited to production and not generalizable to comprehension. This paper presents two exploratory corpus studies that support the second possibility. The results suggest that some previous stage hypotheses do not hold generally and may be limited to a few children. Furthermore, stages that do hold across children may be limited to production only.

📄 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.

📕 Jasbi (2020). Some Unique Semantic Properties of Persian. In Pouneh Shabani-Jadidi eds., The Routledge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition and Pedagogy of Persian  [PDF]

📄 Jasbi, Waldon, Degen (2019). Linking hypothesis and number of response options modulate inferred scalar implicature rate. Frontiers in Psychology  [PDF]  [Data+Code]

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.

📄 Jasbi, Jaggi, & Frank (2018). Conceptual and prosodic cues in child-directed speech can help children learn the meaning of disjunction. Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society [PDF] [Data+Code]

📄 Jasbi & Frank (2017). The Semantics and Pragmatics of Logical Connectives: Adults' and Children's Interpretations of "And" and "Or" in a Guessing Game. Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. [PDF] [Data+Code]

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]