The Graduate School
G-1 Communications Building
Seattle, Washington 98195-3770
Walker Ames Endowment
- Professor and distinguished scholar-teacher, Department of Linguistics; Neuroscience and Cognitive Science Program, University of Maryland
May 15, 2012 | 6:30 p.m.
Kane Hall, Room 120
You do not need to be an alum of the University of Washington to attend or register.
Powered in partnership with the UW Alumni Association
Linguistic illusions: Where You See Them, Where You Don't
Visual illusions have played an important role in our understanding of how our brains perceive the world. Our visual system is remarkably sophisticated in many ways, but system also can be "fooled" into seeing the world differently from the way that it really is. The same is true of the brain's ability to understand language: the neurocognitive mechanisms that control human language are extremely rich, but the language system can also be fooled. We notice some speech errors easily, but are blind to others. We sometimes interpret people to be saying something quite different from what they are actually communicating. Phillips will show that we can learn a lot about how the system works by investigating the profile of successes and failures. In particular, we learn about the importance of different types of memory mechanisms for understanding and misunderstanding language.
For an example, read the following sentence:
- More people have been to Washington than I have.
It sounds like a fairly natural sentence of English, right? Now ask yourself what it means, if anything.
About Colin Phillips
Colin Phillips is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Maryland. His lifelong fascination with language has spanned the humanities, social sciences, and biological sciences. Growing up in England he found a way to study all six languages offered at his high school, most of which he has since forgotten, then studied medieval German literature at Oxford University (1990). After moving to the United States he obtained a PhD from MIT (1996), where his interests moved towards the psychology and neuroscience of language. He is a founder of the Maryland Neuroimaging Center and Associate Director of its Neuroscience and Cognitive Science Department. In 2011 he was named as a Distinguished Scholar-Teacher and also received his university's Graduate Mentor of the Year Award. He and his students are tireless advocate for interdisciplinary integration, both in their research, and in their efforts to bring together experts in language from linguistic, computational, educational, clinical, and neurobiological perspectives.
- UW Graduate School
- UW Alumni Association
- Department of Linguistics