Parameter setting and statistical learning

Rosalind Thornton, Graciela Tesan

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    Three main models of parameter setting have been proposed: the Variational model proposed by Yang (2002; 2004), the Structured Acquisition model endorsed by Baker (2001; 2005), and the Very Early Parameter Setting (VEPS) model advanced by Wexler (1998). The VEPS model contends that parameters are set early. The Variational model supposes that children employ statistical learning mechanisms to decide among competing parameter values, so this model anticipates delays in parameter setting when critical input is sparse, and gradual setting of parameters. On the Structured Acquisition model, delays occur because parameters form a hierarchy, with higher-level parameters set before lower-level parameters. Assuming that children freely choose the initial value, children sometimes will mis-set parameters. However, when that happens, the input is expected to trigger a precipitous rise in one parameter value and a corresponding decline in the other value. We will point to the kind of child language data that is needed in order to adjudicate among these competing models.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Australian Linguistic Society
    EditorsIlana Mushin, Mary Laughren
    Place of PublicationBrisbane, Australia
    PublisherUniversity of Queensland
    Number of pages11
    ISBN (Print)9780980281514
    Publication statusPublished - 2006
    EventAnnual Meeting of the Australian Linguistic Society (2006) - Brisbane
    Duration: 7 Jul 20069 Jul 2006


    ConferenceAnnual Meeting of the Australian Linguistic Society (2006)


    • child language development
    • Universal Grammar
    • parameter setting
    • statistical learning
    • triggering model
    • negation

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