Learnability in the Context of Lexicalized Parameters: A Compositional Approach to Language Acquisition

37 Pages Posted: 21 Apr 2021 Last revised: 30 Apr 2021

See all articles by João Marinotti

João Marinotti

Center for Law, Society and Culture, Indiana University Maurer School of Law; Information Society Project, Yale Law School; Center for Intellectual Property Research, Indiana University Maurer School of Law; The City University of New York - The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Date Written: October 18, 2020

Abstract

Language acquisition is inextricably linked to the structure of language itself. Consequently, syntactic acquisition must address the structure of syntactic representation. Research on cross-linguistic syntactic variation and acquisition has repeatedly demonstrated the various difficulties in modeling a Principles and Parameters-style grammar and learning mechanism. Perhaps, such difficulty stems from the inadequacy of a Principles and Parameters-style representation of language itself. This paper combines relevant aspects of Minimalist syntax and a learning-by-parsing approach, in the vein of Fodor and Teller (2000), in order to motivate a reanalysis of learnability using lexicalized parameter values. The learner’s goal is no longer to set grammar-wide parameter values, but rather to learn how individual lexical items are merged. In this paper, a new psychologically-plausible learnability model is mapped as the foundation for future research. Furthermore, by abstracting away from mental primitives, this paper also notes how tree-adjoining grammars may be used as computational proxies for lexicalized parameters, providing empirical ways to further study this proposed learning algorithm.

Keywords: Learnability Theory, Minimalism, Parameters, LTAG, Syntactic Acquisition, Language Acquisition

Suggested Citation

Marinotti, João, Learnability in the Context of Lexicalized Parameters: A Compositional Approach to Language Acquisition (October 18, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3830636 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3830636

João Marinotti (Contact Author)

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