ERIC Number: EJ864012
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Dec
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 74
A Usage-Based Approach to Recursion in Sentence Processing
Christiansen, Morten H.; MacDonald, Maryellen C.
Language Learning, v59 ns1 p126-161 Dec 2009
Most current approaches to linguistic structure suggest that language is recursive, that recursion is a fundamental property of grammar, and that independent performance constraints limit recursive abilities that would otherwise be infinite. This article presents a usage-based perspective on recursive sentence processing, in which recursion is construed as an acquired skill and in which limitations on the processing of recursive constructions stem from interactions between linguistic experience and intrinsic constraints on learning and processing. A connectionist model embodying this alternative theory is outlined, along with simulation results showing that the model is capable of constituent-like generalizations and that it can fit human data regarding the differential processing difficulty associated with center-embeddings in German and cross-dependencies in Dutch. Novel predictions are furthermore derived from the model and corroborated by the results of four behavioral experiments, suggesting that acquired recursive abilities are intrinsically bounded not only when processing complex recursive constructions, such as center-embedding and cross-dependency, but also during processing of the simpler, right- and left-recursive structures.
Descriptors: Sentences, Language Processing, Language Usage, Grammar, Models, Generalization, German, Indo European Languages, Prediction, Linguistic Theory
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
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