Direct Versus Indirect Causation as a Semantic Linguistic Universal: Using a Computational Model of English, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, and K'iche' Mayan to Predict Grammaticality Judgments in Balinese.



Aryawibawa, I Nyoman, Qomariana, Yana, Artawa, Ketut and Ambridge, Ben ORCID: 0000-0003-2389-8477
(2021) Direct Versus Indirect Causation as a Semantic Linguistic Universal: Using a Computational Model of English, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, and K'iche' Mayan to Predict Grammaticality Judgments in Balinese. Cognitive Science, 45 (4). e12974 - e12974.

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to test the claim that languages universally employ morphosyntactic marking to differentiate events of more- versus less-direct causation, preferring to mark them with less- and more- overt marking, respectively (e.g., Somebody broke the window vs. Somebody MADE the window break; *Somebody cried the boy vs. Somebody MADE the boy cry). To this end, we investigated whether a recent computational model which learns to predict speakers' by-verb relative preference for the two causatives in English, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, and K'iche' Mayan is able to generalize to a sixth language on which it has never been trained: Balinese. Judgments of the relative acceptability of the less- and more-transparent causative forms of 60 verbs were collected from 48 native-speaking Balinese adults. The composite crosslinguistic computational model was able to predict these judgments, not only for verbs that it had seen, but also--in a split-half validation test--to verbs that it had never seen in any language. A "random-semantics" model showed only a relatively small decrement in performance with seen verbs, whose behavior can be learned on a verb-by-verb basis, but achieved zero correlation with human judgments when generalizing to unseen verbs. Together, these findings suggest that Balinese conceptualizes directness of causation in a similar way to these unrelated languages, and therefore constitute support for the view that the distinction between more- versus less-distinct causation constitutes a morphosyntactic universal.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences > Institute of Population Health
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2021 09:16
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 01:10
DOI: 10.1111/cogs.12974
Open Access URL: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cogs.1...
URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3120320