LEC talk Tuesday 13th October: Jenny Culbertson

By jon | October 5, 2015

Tuesday 13th October, 11:00–12:30
Room 1.17, DSB

Jenny Culbertson

Language learning and word order regularities: Children’s errors reflect a typological preference for harmonic patterns

Much recent debate in cognitive science concerns whether language universals exist and whether there is a connection between language acquisition, language change, and linguistic typology. However, recent studies have made important progress on these questions by demonstrating, in at least a few cases, that laboratory learners alter artificial languages toward patterns that are common cross-linguistically. Here we ask whether child learners do this even more strongly than adults. We focus on a bias for harmonic word order patterns and show that the strength of this bias changes dramatically over age. This suggests an important role for children in language change and underscores the importance of including child learners in investigations of the cognitive underpinnings of biases shaping language.