Field of Science

Games with Words in Taiwan

I've been in Taiwan for two weeks, and further posts of the Tutorial will probably wait until I get back next week.

I had an excellent two-day visit to Prof. Su Yi-ching's lab at Tsing Hua University (Qinghua for you pinyin-readers), where I was able to collect an absurd amount of data due to the generosity of Prof. Su and her students (over 110 participants in two written studies, plus three in an eye-tracking study). I also had a great time at Prof. Lee Chia-Ying's very lively lab at Academia Sinica, where I got to observe a kid ERP experiment (something I've never actually seen, though I'm in the process of planning one of my own) and also test several more participants in the eye-tracking study. I also visited Prof. Chueng Hintat at National Taiwan University. I was mildly surprised to discover I actually can discuss my research in Mandarin when necessary, though with most people it was possible to use English (thankfully).

I wasn't at all sure how this trip was going to go when I planned it, as at the time I didn't actually know any psycholinguists in Taiwan. It turns out that there's actually a pretty substantial group of developmental psycholinguists working on interesting problems. Su and Cheung are both in the process of releasing much-needed new child corpora, with Su focusing on (if I remember correctly) optional infinitives (to the extent such can be recognized in a language with no inflectional morphology) and lexical tone, and Cheung focusing on argument structure alternations. Lee's lab is producing some really well-considered studies of character-reading (for instance, looking at how phonetic and semantic radicals are processed). I also heard of several other faculty doing exciting work but whom I didn't have time to visit.

And, of course, I got a lot of data, which is good since Harvard partly funded this trip on the expectation I would run some experiments. The experiments I was running are all similar to the Pronoun Sleuth project -- that is, looking at factors that affect what people think a pronoun means, and trying to replicate some of my findings in English.

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