Do children preferentially mark unpredictable material? The case of optional plural marking

Shira Tal, Inbal Arnon

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Speakers tend to assign more linguistic material to less predictable elements. This tendency is typically explained by a bias for an efficient trade-off between production effort and understandability and is claimed to shape linguistic structures across languages. Recent work suggests this trade-off enters the linguistic system through learning processes with learners deviating from their input by increasing marking for less predictable elements. However, no study to date has tested whether child learners also show such predictability-based marking, an important gap seeing that children are the primary learners in real-life language acquisition. A recent study showed that adults increase predictability-based marking of an optional-plural marker, in line with communicative efficiency. Here, we ask if children show a similar pattern. Results show that children, unlike adults, do not show an efficient trade-off in their productions. We discuss implications for the role of different language learners on language change.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages3226-3232
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 2020
Event42nd Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Developing a Mind: Learning in Humans, Animals, and Machines, CogSci 2020 - Virtual, Online
Duration: 29 Jul 20201 Aug 2020

Conference

Conference42nd Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Developing a Mind: Learning in Humans, Animals, and Machines, CogSci 2020
CityVirtual, Online
Period29/07/201/08/20

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s). This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY)

Keywords

  • artificial language learning
  • language acquisition
  • language evolution
  • optional morphology

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