ERIC Number: EJ935912
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Mar
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
Learning What "Not" to Say: The Role of Statistical Preemption and Categorization in "A"-Adjective Production
Boyd, Jeremy K.; Goldberg, Adele E.
Language, v87 n1 p55-83 Mar 2011
A persistent mystery in language acquisition is how speakers are able to learn seemingly arbitrary distributional restrictions. This article investigates one such case: the fact that speakers resist using certain adjectives prenominally (e.g. ??"the asleep man"). Experiment 1 indicates that speakers tentatively generalize or "categorize" the distributional restriction beyond their previous experience. Experiment 2 demonstrates that speakers are sensitive to "statistical preemption"--that is, speakers learn not to use a formulation if an alternative formulation with the same function is consistently witnessed. Moreover, they are able to generalize the restriction to apply to other members of the category as well. Finally, experiment 3 finds evidence that speakers "discount" a pseudopreemptive context, rationally ignoring it as uninformative.
Descriptors: Classification, Language Usage, Role, Form Classes (Languages), Language Acquisition, Language Processing, Language Research, Generalization
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A