NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Back to results
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ953940
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Mar
Pages: 24
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0010-0277
Learning Biases Predict a Word Order Universal
Culbertson, Jennifer; Smolensky, Paul; Legendre, Geraldine
Cognition, v122 n3 p306-329 Mar 2012
How recurrent typological patterns, or universals, emerge from the extensive diversity found across the world's languages constitutes a central question for linguistics and cognitive science. Recent challenges to a fundamental assumption of generative linguistics--that universal properties of the human language acquisition faculty constrain the types of grammatical systems which can occur--suggest the need for new types of empirical evidence connecting typology to biases of learners. Using an artificial language learning paradigm in which adult subjects are exposed to a mix of grammatical systems (similar to a period of linguistic change), we show that learners' biases mirror a word-order universal, first proposed by Joseph Greenberg, which constrains typological patterns of adjective, numeral, and noun ordering. We briefly summarize the results of a probabilistic model of the hypothesized biases and their effect on learning, and discuss the broader implications of the results for current theories of the origins of cross-linguistic word-order preferences. (Contains 7 figures and 8 tables.)
Elsevier. 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, FL 32887-4800. Tel: 877-839-7126; Tel: 407-345-4020; Fax: 407-363-1354; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A