The Department of Logic & Philosophy of Science Colloquium Series presents

"More Learnable Than Thou?  Testing Metrical Phonology Representations with Child-Directed Speech"
with Lisa Pearl, Associate Professor, Cognitive Sciences, UC Irvine

November 22, 2013
3:00 p.m.
Social Science Tower, Room 777

One (often implicit) motivation for a linguistic knowledge representation comes from an argument from acquisition, with the idea that language acquisition is straightforward if children’s hypothesis space is defined by the correct knowledge representation. Acquisition then becomes the process of selecting the correct language-specific grammar from that hypothesis space, based on the language input encountered. Pearl discusses a quantitative metric based on an argument from acquisition for comparing knowledge representations and the grammars they define. This metric involves assessing grammar learnability from realistic input data, and she applies this metric to three prominent knowledge representations in the domain of metrical phonology that each propose a grammar for English, a notoriously tricky language containing many irregularities. She discovered that learnability issues arise for the English grammars in all three representations, and discuss aspects of the proposed English grammars that may be hurting learnability as well as ways a child may still be able to learn the proposed English grammars from English input.

For further information, please contact Cailin O'Connor,

connect with us


© UC Irvine School of Social Sciences - 3151 Social Sciences Plaza, Irvine, CA 92697-5100 - 949.824.2766