The crosslinguistic acquisition of sentence structure: Computational modeling and grammaticality judgments from adult and child speakers of English, Japanese, Hindi, Hebrew and K'iche'.



Ambridge, Ben ORCID: 0000-0003-2389-8477, Maitreyee, Ramya ORCID: 0000-0002-8915-8757, Tatsumi, Tomoko, Doherty, Laura, Zicherman, Shira, Pedro, Pedro Mateo, Bannard, Colin, Samanta, Soumitra ORCID: 0000-0003-2200-3061, McCauley, Stewart, Arnon, Inbal
et al (show 12 more authors) (2020) The crosslinguistic acquisition of sentence structure: Computational modeling and grammaticality judgments from adult and child speakers of English, Japanese, Hindi, Hebrew and K'iche'. Cognition, 202.

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Abstract

This preregistered study tested three theoretical proposals for how children form productive yet restricted linguistic generalizations, avoiding errors such as *The clown laughed the man, across three age groups (5-6 years, 9-10 years, adults) and five languages (English, Japanese, Hindi, Hebrew and K'iche'). Participants rated, on a five-point scale, correct and ungrammatical sentences describing events of causation (e.g., *Someone laughed the man; Someone made the man laugh; Someone broke the truck; ?Someone made the truck break). The verb-semantics hypothesis predicts that, for all languages, by-verb differences in acceptability ratings will be predicted by the extent to which the causing and caused event (e.g., amusing and laughing) merge conceptually into a single event (as rated by separate groups of adult participants). The entrenchment and preemption hypotheses predict, for all languages, that by-verb differences in acceptability ratings will be predicted by, respectively, the verb's relative overall frequency, and frequency in nearly-synonymous constructions (e.g., X made Y laugh for *Someone laughed the man). Analysis using mixed effects models revealed that entrenchment/preemption effects (which could not be distinguished due to collinearity) were observed for all age groups and all languages except K'iche', which suffered from a thin corpus and showed only preemption sporadically. All languages showed effects of event-merge semantics, except K'iche' which showed only effects of supplementary semantic predictors. We end by presenting a computational model which successfully simulates this pattern of results in a single discriminative-learning mechanism, achieving by-verb correlations of around r = 0.75 with human judgment data.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: child language acquistion, verb semantics, preemption, entrenchment, causative, English, Japanese, Hindi, Hebrew, K'iche
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 30 Jul 2020 10:55
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2021 07:18
DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2020.104310
Related URLs:
URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3095707