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Title: Subject omission in children's language; The case for performance limitations in learning.
Authors: Freudenthal, D
Pine, J M
Gobet, F
Keywords: Subject omission;MOSAIC;pro-drop hypothesis;performance limitation;learning;computational modelling;distributional analysis;innate knowledge;naturalistic input;syntax;Bloom
Issue Date: 2002
Publisher: Cognitive Science Society
Citation: Freudenthal, D., Pine, J. M., & Gobet, F. (2002). Subject omission in children's language; The case for performance limitations in learning. Proceedings of the 24th Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 334-339). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Abstract: Several theories have been put forward to explain the phenomenon that children who are learning to speak their native language tend to omit the subject of the sentence. According to the pro-drop hypothesis, children represent the wrong grammar. According to the performance limitations view, children represent the full grammar, but omit subjects due to performance limitations in production. This paper proposes a third explanation and presents a model which simulates the data relevant to subject omission. The model consists of a simple learning mechanism that carries out a distributional analysis of naturalistic input. It does not have any overt representation of grammatical categories, and its performance limitations reside mainly in its learning mechanism. The model clearly simulates the data at hand, without the need to assume large amounts of innate knowledge in the child, and can be considered more parsimonious on these grounds alone. Importantly, it employs a unified and objective measure of processing load, namely the length of the utterance, which interacts with frequency in the input. The standard performance limitations view assumes that processing load is dependent on a phrase’s syntactic role, but does not specify a unifying underlying principle.
Appears in Collections:Psychology
Dept of Life Sciences Research Papers

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