Hi!

I'm a second year graduate student in the Linguistics department at the University of Maryland, College Park where I'm also part of the Language Science Center. Broadly, I'm interested in meaning, its acquisition, and the relationship between linguistic and conceptual structure. Currently, I'm using tools from formal semantics, psycholinguistics, and psychophysics to look into the lexical specifications and acquisition of quantifiers, as well as how they interface with extralinguistic cognition. I'm advised by Jeff Lidz and Paul Pietroski.

Research

First- vs. Second-order Quantifiers: Proportional quantifiers like most require second-order logic, but others -- like each, every, and all -- are expressible using the tools of first-order logic. So, how are they in fact represented in speakers' minds? With Jeff Lidz, Paul Pietroski, and Justin Halberda, I'm developing a set of experimental diagnostics that try to answer this question by probing default verification procedures. Holding all else (task, participant, truth-conditions, etc.) equal, we take preferences for individual-based or set-based strategies to reflect underlying first- and second-order representational formats, respectively. Initial findings suggest that, though truth-conditionally equivalent, each, every, and all have different lexical specifications.

More & Most: Relatedly, we've been looking at how the comparative more and the proportional most bias different visual search and memory encoding strategies in adults and kids. One upshot is that when evaluating most-statements (like "most of the dots are blue"), people attend to and represent the focused set (blue dots) and the superset (dots). When evaluating more-statements on the other hand (like "more of the dots are blue"), people attend to and represent the focused (blue) and non-focused (non-blue) sets.

Event Concepts & Verb Learning: I'm working with Alexander Williams, Jeff Lidz, and Laurel Perkins to identify events -- like x taking y from z -- that infants view under a 3-participant concept but that adults often describe with transitive sentences like "The girl took the truck". The ultimate goal is to better understand how learners relate the arguments in a given clause to the participants in the event it describes. And eventually, to give an account of how they use this information to acquire verb meanings.

Pre-UMD: Before coming to Maryland I studied Cognitive Science at Johns Hopkins. I was fortunate enough to work closely with Justin Halberda on a number of projects, some of which were related to the Approximate Number System and its interface with language. I also had the opportunity to work with Akira Omaki on a project investigating the relationship between working memory and parsing.

Posters

Knowlton, T., Halberda, J., Pietroski, P., and Lidz, J. (2017) Sentences, Centers, and Sets: Set Selection and the Meanings of More and Most. Cognitive Development Society (CDS) biennial meeting, Portland, OR. 

Knowlton, T., Halberda, J., Pietroski, P., and Lidz, J. (2017) Distinguishing First- from Second-order Specifications of Each, Every, and All. Mid-Atlantic Colloquium of Studies in Meaning (MACSIM) 7, Georgetown. 

Knowlton, T., Halberda, J., Pietroski, P., and Lidz, J. (2017) Set Selection and Storage Reflect Differences in Quantifier Meanings. James S. McDonnell Plenary Workshop on “The Ontogenetic Origins of Combinatorial Thought”, UCSD. 

Perkins, L., Knowlton, T., Hirzel, M., Dudley, R., Williams, A., and Lidz, J. (2017) Linguistic and Conceptual Structure in Verb Learning. James S. McDonnell Plenary Workshop on “The Ontogenetic Origins of Combinatorial Thought”, UCSD. 

Knowlton, T. and Omaki, A. (2016) The Parser's Dilemma: Memory vs. Grammatical Constraints in Sentence Processing. PURA poster session, Johns Hopkins. 

Contact Info

  • Email

    tzknowlt@umd.edu
  • Address

    1413H Marie Mount Hall
    7814 Regents Drive
    College Park, MD 20742