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Words, rules, and mechanisms of language acquisition

Endress, A. and Bonatti, L. L. (2016). Words, rules, and mechanisms of language acquisition. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 7(1), pp. 19-35. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1376

Abstract

We review recent artificial language learning studies, especially those following Endress and Bonatti (2007), suggesting that humans can deploy a variety of learning mechanisms to acquire artificial languages. Several experiments provide evidence for multiple learning mechanisms that can be deployed in fluent speech: one mechanism encodes the positions of syllables within words and can be used to extract generalization, while the other registers co-occurrence statistics of syllables and can be used to break a continuum into its components. We review dissociations between these mechanisms and their potential role in language acquisition. We then turn to recent criticisms of the multiple mechanisms hypothesis and show that they are inconsistent with the available data. Our results suggest that artificial and natural language learning is best understood by dissecting the underlying specialized learning abilities, and that these data provide a rare opportunity to link important language phenomena to basic psychological mechanisms.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Endress, A. & Bonatti, L. L. (2016). Words, rules, and mechanisms of language acquisition. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 7(1), pp. 19-35., which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/wcs.1376. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Departments: School of Arts & Social Sciences > Psychology
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/13016
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