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ERIC Number: EJ920928
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 34
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 65
ISSN: ISSN-1048-9223
When Unbiased Probabilistic Learning Is Not Enough: Acquiring a Parametric System of Metrical Phonology
Pearl, Lisa S.
Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, v18 n2 p87-120 2011
Parametric systems have been proposed as models of how humans represent knowledge about language, motivated in part as a way to explain children's rapid acquisition of linguistic knowledge. Given this, it seems reasonable to examine if children with knowledge of parameters could in fact acquire the adult system from the data available to them. That is, we explore an argument from acquisition for this knowledge representation. We use the English metrical phonology system as a nontrivial case study and test several computational models of unbiased probabilistic learners. Special attention is given to the modeled learners' input and the psychological plausibility of the model components in order to consider the learning problem from the perspective of children acquiring their native language. We find that such cognitively inspired unbiased probabilistic learners uniformly fail to acquire the English grammar proposed in recent metrical studies from English child-directed speech, suggesting that probabilistic learning alone is insufficient to acquire the correct grammar when using this parametric knowledge representation. Several potential sources of this failure are discussed, along with their implications for the parametric knowledge representation and the trajectory of acquisition for English metrical phonology. (Contains 5 tables and 14 footnotes.)
Psychology Press. 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