Paper: A Selectionist Theory Of Language Acquisition

ACL ID P99-1055
Title A Selectionist Theory Of Language Acquisition
Venue Annual Meeting of the Association of Computational Linguistics
Session Main Conference
Year 1999

This paper argues that developmental patterns in child language be taken seriously in computational models of language acquisition, and proposes a for- mal theory that meets this criterion. We first present developmental facts that are problematic for sta- tistical learning approaches which assume no prior knowledge of grammar, and for traditional learnabil- ity models which assume the learner moves from one UG-defined grammar to another. In contrast, we view language acquisition as a population of gram- mars associated with "weights", that compete in a Darwinian selectionist process. Selection is made possible by the variational properties of individual grammars; specifically, their differential compatibil- ity with the primary linguistic data in the environ- ment. In addition to a conver...