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ERIC Number: EJ799253
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jun
Pages: 17
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 16
ISSN: ISSN-0364-0213
Bigrams and the Richness of the Stimulus
Kam, Xuan-Nga Cao; Stoyneshka, Iglika; Tornyova, Lidiya; Fodor, Janet D.; Sakas, William G.
Cognitive Science, v32 n4 p771-787 Jun 2008
Recent challenges to Chomsky's "poverty of the stimulus" thesis for language acquisition suggest that children's primary data may carry "indirect evidence" about linguistic constructions despite containing no instances of them. Indirect evidence is claimed to suffice for grammar acquisition, without need for innate knowledge. This article reports experiments based on those of Reali and Christiansen (2005), who demonstrated that a simple bigram language model can induce the correct form of auxiliary inversion in certain complex questions. This article investigates the nature of the indirect evidence that supports this learning, and assesses how reliably it is available. Results confirm the original finding for one specific sentence type but show that the model's success is highly circumscribed. It performs poorly on inversion in related constructions in English and Dutch. Because other, more powerful statistical models have so far been shown to succeed only on the same limited subset of cases as the bigram model, it remains to be seen whether stimulus richness can be substantiated more generally. (Contains 7 tables and 15 notes.)
Lawrence Erlbaum. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A