A new study by MIT researchers indicates that when we process language, we often make mental edits.
Moreover, it suggests that we seem to use specific strategies for making sense of confusing information the ‘noise’ interfering with the signal conveyed in language, as researchers think of it.
“Even at the sentence level of language, there is a potential loss of information over a noisy channel,” said Edward Gibson, a professor in MIT`s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences (BCS) and Department of Linguistics and Philosophy.
“As people are perceiving language in everyday life, they’re proof-reading, or proof-hearing, what they’re getting,” said Leon Bergen, a PhD student in BCS and a co-author of the study.
“What we’re getting is quantitative evidence about how exactly people are doing this proof-reading. It’s a well-calibrated process,” Bergen added.
The study is based on a series of experiments using the Amazon Mechanical Turk survey system, in which subjects were presented with a series of sentences “some evidently sensible, and others less so” and asked to judge what those sentences meant.