Generalizing beyond the input: the functions of the constructions matter

Perek, Florent and Goldberg, Adele. (2015) Generalizing beyond the input: the functions of the constructions matter. Journal of Memory and Language, 84. pp. 108-127.

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A growing emphasis on statistics in language learning raises the question of whether and when speakers use language in ways that go beyond the statistical regularities in the input. In this study, two groups were exposed to six novel verbs and two novel word order constructions that differed in function: one construction but not the other was exclusively used with pronoun undergoers. The distributional structure of the input was manipulated between groups according to whether each verb was used exclusively in one or the other construction (the lexicalist condition), or whether a minority of verbs was witnessed in both constructions (the alternating condition). Production and judgments results demonstrate that participants tended to generalize the constructions for use in appropriate discourse contexts, ignoring evidence of verb-specific behavior, especially in the alternating condition. Our results suggest that construction learning involves an interaction of witnessed usage together with the functions of the constructions involved.
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaften > Fachbereich Englische Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft > Kognitive Linguistik und Spracherwerbsforschung (Behrens, engl. Sprachw.)
UniBasel Contributors:PĂ©rek, Florent
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:06 Jul 2017 09:29
Deposited On:06 Jul 2017 09:25

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