Non-information-density approaches to online processing
Seminar Winter 2015/2016


Course Information

Dr. Asad Sayeed
C7.2 Konferenzraum 2.11
Meeting times
Wednesdays 12-14
asayeed at coli d0t uni hyph3n saarland d0t de
Course language

Goals of the seminar

In this seminar, we will take a look at the psycholinguistic literature on phenomena in online sentence processing. Specifically, we will focus on the aspects of online sentence processing that are not directly related to information density or immediate communicative efficiency considerations, but rather on other aspects such as (but not limited to) structural/derivational factors or memory limits.

While the focus of the course will be on sentence processing in adults, students will be free to choose and present papers that highlight acquisition or evolutionary and biolinguistic factors in understanding the structural constraints on online processing. Formal and theoretical papers that highlight non- or indirectly-communicative aspects of language that shed light on processing are also welcome.

Prerequisites: it's best if you're familiar with basic concepts in syntax and semantics, and even better, psycholinguistics. The papers can cover a broad range, so I can't be too specific.

Mailing List

If you want to participate in the course, you have to sign up for the mailing list. Sometimes I will point out material this way, and I also encourage using the list for discussion purposes.

Requirements and evaluation

You are expected to do one presentation. Some of you will want to submit term papers for additional credit. Some of you will want an oral exam. For the presentation, you can just present a single paper (in detail), which is what most people do here.

For the term paper, you should discuss the topic with me before the end of the semester. You can approach me for topics and literature suggestions, just make an appointment by email.

Your participation in the presentations/discussions led by your peers is also important. Participating will help you do well in the oral exam, if you choose to do one, as well as perhaps inspire term paper topics and improve your own presentation.

Calendar and readings

I will lecture for a couple of weeks, and then we will switch to student-led presentations/discussions. We'll try to assign those as soon as pssible.

Date Topic
28.10.2015 Introduction to the course, organizational details. Motivations, getting to know each other. No readings required for this day.
Slides available here.
4.11.2015 Asad is presenting.
Reading: Phillips and Lewis 2013
Slides available here.
11.11.2015 Paper discussion
Reading: Kempen 2013
18.11.2015 NO SEMINAR
25.11.2015 Pavel Shkadzko is presenting.
Reading: Dillon et al. (2014).
2.12.2015 Alexander Bentcamp is presenting.
Reading: Sato et al. (2013)
9.12.2015 Alena Vasilevich is presenting.
Reading: Amsel et al. (2015)
16.12.2015 Max Paulus is presenting.
Readings (pick one): Lüdtke et al. (2008) or Fischler et. al (1983).
23.12.2015 NO SEMINAR
30.12.2015 NO SEMINAR
6.1.2016 NO SEMINAR
20.1.2015 Aniko Kovac is presenting.
Reading: Marantz (2005)
27.1.2015 Christian Wellner is presenting.
Reading: Jackendoff (2011)
3.2.2015 Paper discussion.
Reading: Payne et al. (2015)
10.2.2015 Open slot/discussion. Wrap-up presentation. Reading TBA.

The rest of the calendar will unfold as I gauge interest, student presentations are scheduled, and so on.

Suggested papers for presentation

This is a HUGE topic, since it's defined negatively, so this is BY NO MEANS a comprehensive list. It's a small sample of what you would find in the literature. And I am very open to helping you find something that you might be more interested in, if you can't choose one yourself. This list may also grow over time. Some of these I may present myself if no one chooses them. You can also choose to present parts of a very long paper: I'm flexible. NB: some of them require you to use a campus IP address to access, because they come from expensive journals. (The VPN works.)

I'll continue to expand this list until everyone has something they want to present, as there's no shortage of topics!