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- ItemThe Acquisition and Processing of Backwards Anaphora(2005-08-02) Kazanina, Nina; Phillips, Colin; Linguistics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)This dissertation investigates long-distance backwards pronominal dependencies (backwards anaphora or cataphora) and constraints on such dependencies from the viewpoint of language development and real-time language processing. Based on the findings from a comprehension experiment with Russian-speaking children and on real-time sentence processing data from English and Russian adults I argue for a position that distinguishes structural and non-structural constraints on backwards anaphora. I show that unlike their non-syntactic counterparts, structural constraints on coreference, in particular Principle C of the Binding Theory (Chomsky 1981), are active at the earliest stage of language development and of real-time processing. In language acquisition, the results of a truth-value judgment task with 3-6 year old Russian-speaking children reveal a striking developmental asymmetry between Principle C, a cross-linguistically consistent syntactic constraint on coreference, and a Russian-specific discourse constraint on coreference. Whereas Principle C is respected by children already at the age of three, the Russian-specific (discourse) constraint is not operative in child language until the age of five. These findings present a challenge for input-driven accounts of language acquisition and are most naturally explained in theories that admit the existence of innately specified principles that underlie linguistic representations. In real-time processing, the findings from a series of self-paced reading experiments on English and Russian show that in backwards anaphora contexts the parser initiates an active search for an antecedent for the pronoun which is limited to positions that are not subject to structural constraints on coreference, e.g. Principle C. This grammatically constrained active search mechanism associated observed in the processing of backwards anaphora is similar to the mechanism found in the processing of another type of a long-distance dependency, the wh-dependency. I suggest that the early application of structural constraints on long-distance dependencies is due to reasons of parsing efficiency rather than due to their architectural priority, as such constraints aid to restrict the search space of possible representations to be built by the parser. A computational parsing algorithm is developed that combines the constrained active search mechanism with a strict incremental left-to-right structure building procedure.
- ItemThe acquisition of adjunct control: grammar and processing(2016) Gerard, Juliana; Lidz, Jeffrey; Linguistics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)This dissertation uses children’s acquisition of adjunct control as a case study to investigate grammatical and performance accounts of language acquisition. In previous research, children have consistently exhibited non-adultlike behavior for sentences with adjunct control. To explain children’s behavior, several different grammatical accounts have been proposed, but evidence for these accounts has been inconclusive. In this dissertation, I take two approaches to account for children’s errors. First, I spell out the predictions of previous grammatical accounts, and test these predictions after accounting for some methodological concerns that might have influenced children’s behavior in previous studies. While I reproduce the non-adultlike behavior observed in previous studies, the predictions of previous grammatical accounts are not borne out, suggesting that extragrammatical factors are needed to explain children’s behavior. Next, I consider the role of two different types of extragrammatical factors in predicting children’s non-adultlike behavior. With a new task designed to address the task demands in previous studies, children exhibit significantly higher accuracy than with previous tasks. This suggests that children’s behavior has been influenced by task- specific processing factors. In addition to the task, I also test the predictions of a similarity-based interference account, which links children’s errors to the same memory mechanisms involved in sentence processing difficulties observed in adults. These predictions are borne out, supporting a more continuous developmental trajectory as children’s processing mechanisms become more resistant to interference. Finally, I consider how children’s errors might influence their acquisition of adjunct control, given the distribution in the linguistic input. I discuss the results of a corpus analysis, including the possibility that adjunct control could be learned from the input. The kinds of information that could be useful to a learner become much more limited, however, after considering the processing limitations that would interfere with the representations available to the learner.
- ItemAdjunct Control: Syntax and processing(2018) Green, Jeffrey Jack; Williams, Alexander; Linguistics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)This dissertation analyzes the syntax and processing of adjunct control. Adjunct control is the referential relation between the implicit (PRO) subject of a non-finite adjunct clause and its understood antecedent, as in the temporal adjunct in ‘Holly1 went to bed [after PRO1 drinking milk]’, or the rationale clause in ‘August1 sat on the couch [in order PRO1 to read library books]’. Adjunct control is often assumed to involve a syntactic ‘Obligatory Control’ (OC) dependency, but I show that some adjuncts also permit what is referred to as ‘Non-Obligatory Control’ (NOC), as in the sentences ‘The food tasted better [after PRO drinking milk]’ and ‘The book was checked out from the library [in order PRO to read it]’, where PRO refers to some unnamed entity. I argue that for some adjuncts, OC and NOC are not in complementary distribution, contrary to assumptions of much prior literature, but in agreement with Landau (2017). Contrary to implicit assumptions of Landau, however, I also show that this OC/NOC duality does not extend to all adjuncts. I outline assumptions that Landau’s theory would have to make in order to accommodate the wider distribution of OC and NOC in adjuncts, but argue that this is better accomplished within the Movement Theory of Control (Hornstein, 1999) by relaxing the assumption that all adjuncts are phases. Even in adjuncts where both OC and NOC are possible, OC is often strongly preferred. I argue that this is in large part due to interpretive biases in processing. As a foundational step in examining what these processing biases are, the second part of this dissertation uses visual-world eyetracking to compare the timecourse of interpretation of subject-controlled PRO and overt pronouns in temporal adjuncts. The results suggest that PRO can be interpreted just as quickly as overt pronouns once the relevant bottom-up input is received. These experiments also provide evidence that structural predictions can facilitate reference resolution independent of next-mention predictions.
- ItemAn Affiliative Model of Early Lexical Learning(2019) Tripp, Alayo; Feldman, Naomi; Idsardi, William; Linguistics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)In defining the language acquisition problem, traditional models abstract away effects of variability, defining the learner as acquiring a single language variety, which is spoken homogeneously by their speech community. However, infants are exposed to as many unique varieties of speech as they are speakers. Adult sociolinguistic competence is also characterized by the capacity to employ and interpret non-phonological linguistic distinctions which are associated with different social groups, including ‘code-switching’ or ‘style-shifting’ between languages and speech registers. This dissertation presents a model of infant lexical acquisition which assumes that learners monitor linguistic sources for variation in reliability. This model is adapted from Shafto, Eaves, Navarro, and Perfors (2012) which the authors used to describe the behavior of preschool children in selecting sources to learn labels from in K. Corriveau and Harris (2009) and M. Corriveau and Harris (2009). I show that this probabilistic model effectively simulates two experiments from the literature on preverbal infants’ perception of labeling, Rost and McMurray (2009) and Koenig and Echols (2003). Evidence suggests that the receptiveness of preverbal infants to novel lexical items is correlated with infant beliefs regarding the informant’s knowledgeability and social group membership. These simulations demonstrate that language learners may well be recruiting processes of epistemic trust to guide lexical acquisition much earlier than previously suggested. We should therefore expect even very young listeners to respond differently to dialects not solely as a function of exposure, but also as a function of attitudes towards the speech determined by the quality of that exposure. Developmental differences between populations in attention to non-linguistic affiliative cues are therefore expected to emerge early and have significant effects on language outcomes. Measures of online language proficiency may be vulnerable to significant bias owing to the activation of sociolinguistic biases in the presentation of test items. Differences in the breadth or specificity of listener preferences for speakers in turn predict differences in task complexity for learners of standard and non-standard dialects. A new research program in early sociophonetic perception, uniting accounts of selective trust with language learning has the potential to deepen understanding of both typical and disordered language development.
- ItemThe Agreement Theta Generalization(Ubiquity Press, 2019-08-29) Polinsky, Maria; Preminger, OmerIn this paper, we propose a new generalization concerning the structural relationship between a head that agrees with a DP in φ-features and the predicate that assigns the (first) thematic role to that DP: the Agreement Theta Generalization (ATG). According to the ATG, configurations where the thematic-role assigner is located in a higher clause than the agreeing head are categorically excluded. We present empirical evidence for the ATG, discuss its analytical import, and show that this generalization bears directly on the proper modeling of syntactic agreement, as well as the prospects for reducing other syntactic (and syntacto-semantic) dependencies to the same underlying mechanism.
- ItemAll about alles: The syntax of wh-quantifier float in German(2021) Doliana, Aaron Gianmaria Gabriel; Lasnik, Howard; Hornstein, Norbert; Linguistics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)This thesis offers an in-depth investigation of “wh-quantifier float” of the quantifying particle ‘alles’ in German. 'Alles' (etymologically, ‘all’) appears in wh-questions like 'Wen alles hat die Mare eingeladen?' (‘Who-all did Mare invite?’). The thesis focuses on the syntactic distribution of 'alles'. 'Alles' enjoys a wide distribution in the clause. It can occur both ‘adjacent’ to its ‘associate’ wh-phrase, and ‘distant’ from it, in various positions of the clause. I address three questions: What determines the distribution of 'alles'? Are adjacent 'alles' and ‘distal alles’ the same category? What licenses distal 'alles'? I answer these questions by arguing for a stranding analysis of distal 'alles': 'alles' and its associate form a first-Merge constituent, which is optionally separated in the course of the derivation through a process that involves movement ([WH alles] ⇒ [WH. . . [[WH alles]. . . ]]). The conclusion is compatible with prior analyses that argued for or assumed (a) constituency, and (b) a movement dependency in overt syntax. The conclusion is at odds with adverbial analyses, which assume that distal 'alles' is an adverbial. I provide two main empirical arguments. First, I argue against the idea that distal 'alles' and adjacent 'alles' are separate lexical items, or have different lexical content. Second, I argue that the “Chain Link Generalization” is the most accurate generalization for the distribution of 'alles': Given a derivation involving 'alles' and a licit associate, 'alles' may appear in any position which hosts an Abar-chain link of the associate, and in no other position. I show that 'alles' has “no distribution of its own in the clause”. Rather, the distribution of 'alles' depends on the potential distribution of its associate and can be predicted by the associate’s category, the associate’s base-position, the derivation that the associate undergoes in a given sentence. Conceptually, I argue that a stranding analysis is favored by simplicity as most generalizations established in this dissertation are directly entailed by it.
- ItemAlternative Directions for Minimalist Inquiry: Expanding and Contracting Phases of Derivation(2005-04-28) Drury, John Edward; Uriagereka, Juan; Linguistics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)This dissertation develops novel derivational mechanics for characterizing the syntactic component of human language -- Tree Contraction Grammar (TCG). TCG falls within a general class of derivationally-oriented minimalist approaches, constituting a version of a Multiple Spell Out (MSO-)system (Chomsky 1999, Uriagereka 1999, 2002). TCG posits a derivational WORKSPACE restricting the size of structures that can be active at a given stage of derivation. As structures are expanded, workspace limitations periodically force contractions of the span of structure visible to operations. These expansion-contraction dynamics are shown to have implications for our understanding of locality of dependencies, specifically regarding successive cyclic movement. The mechanics of TCG rely on non-standard assumptions about the direction of derivation -- structure assembly is required to work top-down. TCG draws a key idea from TAG; that is, recursive structure ought to play a direct role in delimiting the range of possible interactions between syntactic elements in phases of derivation. TAG factors complex structures into non-recursive elementary trees and recursive auxiliary trees that are combinable via TAG's two operations (substitution/adjoining). In TCG the expansion of structure in the workspace is similarly limited to containing only non-recursive stretches of structure. In the course of a derivation, encountering "repeated elements" in the expanding dominance ordering forces contractions of the workspace (understood to happen in potentially different ways depending on the properties of repeated elements). In certain circumstances, repeated elements are identified, allowing information from earlier stages of derivation to be carried over to later stages, underwriting our (novel) view of successive cyclicity. Recursive structure is retained in the global "output" structure, upon parts of which we understand the workspace to be superimposed.
- ItemAn analysis of negation-dependent times amwu-phrases in Korean, and its theoretical consequences(2020) Bae, Sooyoung; Lasnik, Howard; Preminger, Omer; Linguistics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)In this thesis, I revisit the nature of a negation-dependent expression awmu- in Korean. The central claim is that amwu-s do not fall within one of the two well-established categories of Negative Polarity Item (NPI) and Negative Concord Item (NCI). Hence, the taxonomy of negation-dependent expressions needs to be expanded to include a new, third type. Furthermore, I argue that this third type of expression, as exemplified in Korean, calls for a different principle of grammar, which is syntactic in nature, to properly account for its distribution. The thesis is organized as follows. In chapter 1, I introduce the taxonomy and theoretical background of negation-dependent expressions that have been discussed in the previous literature. Then, I review on-going discussions concerning the identity of amwu- in Korean. In particular, two competing perspectives on amwu- are examined: Negative Polarity Item (NPI) approaches to amwu- (Sohn 1994 & Sells & Kim 2006) and Negative Concord Item (NCI) approaches (Giannakidou 2000, 2006 & Yoon & Giannakidou 2016). I also introduce a puzzle: amwu-s cannot be licensed by its apparent licensor (i.e. sentential negation) in derived positions, which is not accounted for under the previous accounts of NPIs or NCIs and motivates the main proposal of the thesis. In chapter 2, I propose that amwu- is a third category of negation-dependent expressions and amwu- and negation stand in a base-generated relationship of constituency. In particular, I show that the interplay between the constituency of amwu- and negation and constraints on syntactic movement explains why amwu- cannot be licensed in derived positions. This argument is further supported by the bound pronoun effect (cf. Grano &Lasnik 2018 for English) that seems to relax the locality constraint between the base position of amwu- and the surface position of sentential negation. In Chapter 3, I examine predictions of an argument I put forth in chapter 2 that the features responsible for the occurrence of overt negation in Korean can be acquired by the relevant heads derivationally. Following Chomsky (1965)'s featural constraint on deletion, I argue that only inherent features, which are not acquired derivationally, are subject to the identity requirement on ellipsis. Thus, the identity condition on ellipsis under my proposal amounts to a requirement to select a feature from the lexicon that is identical to the one selected from the lexicon in the antecedent. I argue that the fact that amwu-s can be used as fragment answers, despite the polarity mismatch with the antecedent clause, receives a natural account as a consequence of the feature specification in the domain of ellipsis. In Chapter 4, I investigate implications of the underlying constituency of amwu- and negation. In particular, I show paradigms of the extended version of Beck & Kim's intervention effect (1997) in constructions where a long-distance scrambled amwu-phrases interact with wh-phrases. I argue that long-distance scrambled phrase can participate in syntactic and semantic operations in its derived positions. This, in turn, challenges the view that long-distance scrambling in Korean should be relegated to PF. In Chapter 5, I investigate the nominal structure of Korean based upon the Numeral Classifier constructions. In doing so, this chapter contributes to the proposed argument that NegP is an optional part of the extended nominal projection in Korean. In particular, I examine a variety of orderings of Numeral-Classifier constructions in Korean and how they are derived. The chapter also argues that elements within a nominal phrase in Korean are also constrained by Cyclic Linearization and Order Preservation (cf. Fox & Pesetsky 2003, 2005; Ko 2005, 2007; Simpson & Park 2019). This suggests the application domains of Cyclic Linearization are not only clausal domains (CP) but also nominal ones (DP), at least in Korean.
- ItemAnaphors and the Missing Link(2013) Gagnon, Michael Roland; Williams, Alexander; Hacquard, Valentine; Linguistics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)Three types of nominal anaphors are investigated: (i) pronouns, (ii) partitive ellipsis and (iii) the contrastive anaphor `one'. I argue that in each case, the representational basis for anaphora is the same, a semantic variable ranging over singular or plural entities, rather than syntactic as previous approaches have suggested. In the case of pronouns, I argue against syntactic D-type approaches (Elbourne 2005) and semantic D-type approaches (Cooper 1979). Instead, I present arguments in favor of the set variable representation assumed under Nouwen (2003)'s approach. Following this, I consider a number of cases usually taken to involve the elision of a noun phrase, and argue that instead they involve the deletion of a partitive phrase containing an anaphoric plural pronoun. Third, I turn to the contrastive anaphor `one' and its null counterpart in French. Here again, I argue that the basis for anaphora is a semantic set variable, where this anaphor differs from pronouns in being of category N rather than D, and in having a pragmatic requirement for contrast. This analysis differs from previous ones which hold that this expression is a syntactic substitute of category N′, or the spell-out of the head of a number phrase followed by ellipsis of a noun phrase. Finally, I discuss the phenomenon of event anaphora. Given the phenomenon's interaction with the anaphors discussed prior in this dissertation, I argue that it is better seen as a case of deferred reference to an event on the basis of anaphoric reference to a discourse segment, following Webber (1991). This contrasts with what I call metaphysical approaches, which hold that the anaphor directly resumes an event introduced to the context by a previous clause (Asher 1993; Moltmann 1997).
- ItemAre you asking me or telling me? Learning clause types and speech acts in English and Mandarin(2022) Yang, Yu'an; Hacquard, Valentine; Lidz, Jeffrey; Linguistics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)Languages tend to have three major clause types (declaratives, interrogatives, imperatives), dedicated to three main speech acts (assertions, questions, commands). However, the particular forms that these clause types take differ from language to language, and have to be learned. Previous experimental results suggest that by 18 months old, children differentiate these clause types and associate them with their canonical speech act. This dissertation investigates how children learn to identify different clause types and speech acts. To learn clause types, children need to identify the right categories of clauses (the "clustering problem") and figure out what speech act they are canonically used for (the "labeling problem"). I investigate the extent to which learners need to rely on pragmatic information (i.e., knowing what speech act a given utterance of a sentence is conveying), to solve not just labeling, but the clustering itself. I examine the role of pragmatics computationally by building two Bayesian clustering models. I find that morpho-syntactic and prosodic information are not enough for identifying the right clause type clustering, and that pragmatics is necessary. I applied the same model to a morphological impoverished language, Mandarin, and found that the model without pragmatics performs even worse. Speech act information is crucial for finding the right categories for both languages. Additionally, I find that a little pragmatics goes a long way. I simulate the learning process with noisy speech act information, and find that even when speech act information is noisy, the model hones in on the right clause type categories, when the model without fails. But if speech act information is useful for clause type learning, how do children figure out speech act information? I explore what kind of non-clause type cues for speech act information are present in the input. Even if children must rely on clause type information to figure out speech acts, they could have access to additional information that is unrelated to clause typing, but informative for recognizing speech act type. When speakers perform speech acts, because of the conventional functions of these speech acts on the discourse, the performance might be associated with certain socio-pragmatic features. For example, because of questions' response-elicitation function, we might expect speakers to pause longer after questions. If children are equipped with some expectations about the functions of communication, and about what questions do, they might be able to use these socio-pragmatic cues to figure out speech act. I explore two cues that could potentially differentiate questions from other speech acts: pauses, and direct eye gaze. I find that parents tend to pause longer after questions, and attend to the child more when asking questions. Therefore it is in principle plausible that there are some socio-pragmatic features that children can use, in addition to their growing knowledge of clause types to infer the speech act category of an utterance. This little bit of information about speech act could then be used to provide the information that the child needs in order to get the clause type clusters identified accurately.
- ItemArgument Roles in Adult and Child Comprehension(2018) Ehrenhofer, Lara; Phillips, Colin; Linguistics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)Language comprehension requires comprehenders to commit rapidly to interpretations based on incremental and occasionally misleading input. This is especially difficult in the case of argument roles, which may be more or less useful depending on whether comprehenders also have access to verb information. In children, a combination of subject-as-agent parsing biases and difficulty with revising initial misinterpretations may be the source of persistent misunderstandings of passives, in which subjects are not agents. My experimental investigation contrasted German five-year-olds’ argument role assignment in passives in a task that combined act-out and eye-tracking measures. Manipulating the order of subject and voice (Exp. 4.1, 4.3) did not impact German learners’ success in comprehending passives, but providing the cue to voice after the main verb (Exp. 4.2) led to a steep drop in children’s comprehension outcomes, suggesting that the inclusion of verb information impacts how young comprehenders process argument role information. In adults, many studies have found that although argument role reversals create strong contrasts in offline cloze probability, they do not elicit N400 contrasts. This may be because in the absence of a main verb, the parser is unable to use argument role information. In an EEG experiment (Exp. 5.1), we used word order to manipulate the presence or absence of verb information, contrasting noun-noun-verb reversals (NNV; which cowboy the bull had ridden) with noun-verb-noun reversals (NVN; which horse had raced the jockey). We found an N400 contrast in NVN contexts, as predicted, but surprisingly, we also found an N400 contrast in NNV contexts. Unlike previous experimental materials, our stimuli were designed to elicit symmetrically strong and distinct verb predictions with both canonical and reversed argument role assignments. These data suggest that adult comprehenders are able to overcome the absence of a main verb when probability distributions over combined verb-argument role information can contribute to generating role-specific verb candidates. The overall investigation suggests that prediction and comprehension of argument role information is impacted by the presence or absence of verb information, which may allow comprehenders to bridge the divide between linguistic representations and world knowledge in real-time processing.
- ItemBayesian Model of Categorical Effects in L1 and L2 Speech Processing(2014) Kronrod, Yakov; Feldman, Naomi; Linguistics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)In this dissertation I present a model that captures categorical effects in both first language (L1) and second language (L2) speech perception. In L1 perception, categorical effects range between extremely strong for consonants to nearly continuous perception of vowels. I treat the problem of speech perception as a statistical inference problem and by quantifying categoricity I obtain a unified model of both strong and weak categorical effects. In this optimal inference mechanism, the listener uses their knowledge of categories and the acoustics of the signal to infer the intended productions of the speaker. The model splits up speech variability into meaningful category variance and perceptual noise variance. The ratio of these two variances, which I call Tau, directly correlates with the degree of categorical effects for a given phoneme or continuum. By fitting the model to behavioral data from different phonemes, I show how a single parametric quantitative variation can lead to the different degrees of categorical effects seen in perception experiments with different phonemes. In L2 perception, L1 categories have been shown to exert an effect on how L2 sounds are identified and how well the listener is able to discriminate them. Various models have been developed to relate the state of L1 categories with both the initial and eventual ability to process the L2. These models largely lacked a formalized metric to measure perceptual distance, a means of making a-priori predictions of behavior for a new contrast, and a way of describing non-discrete gradient effects. In the second part of my dissertation, I apply the same computational model that I used to unify L1 categorical effects to examining L2 perception. I show that we can use the model to make the same type of predictions as other SLA models, but also provide a quantitative framework while formalizing all measures of similarity and bias. Further, I show how using this model to consider L2 learners at different stages of development we can track specific parameters of categories as they change over time, giving us a look into the actual process of L2 category development.
- ItemBeing pragmatic about syntactic bootstrapping(Cambridge University Press, 2022-12-06) Hacquard, ValentineWords have meanings vastly undetermined by the contexts in which they occur. Their acquisition therefore presents formidable problems of induction. Lila Gleitman and colleagues have advocated for one part of a solution: indirect evidence for a word’s meaning may come from its syntactic distribution, via SYNTACTIC BOOTSTRAPPING. But while formal theories argue for principled links between meaning and syntax, actual syntactic evidence about meaning is noisy and highly abstract. This paper examines the role that syntactic bootstrapping can play in learning modal and attitude verb meanings, for which the physical context is especially uninformative. I argue that abstract syntactic classifications are useful to the child, but that something further is both necessary and available. I examine how pragmatic and syntactic cues can combine in mutually constraining ways to help learners infer attitude meanings, but need to be supplemented by semantic information from the lexical context in the case of modals.
- ItemBEYOND STATISTICAL LEARNING IN THE ACQUISITION OF PHRASE STRUCTURE(2009) Takahashi, Eri; Lidz, Jeffrey; Linguistics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)The notion that children use statistical distributions present in the input to acquire various aspects of linguistic knowledge has received considerable recent attention. But the roles of learner's initial state have been largely ignored in those studies. What remains unclear is the nature of learner's contribution. At least two possibilities exist. One is that all that learners do is to collect and compile accurately predictive statistics from the data, and they do not have antecedently specified set of possible structures (Elman, et al. 1996; Tomasello 2000). On this view, outcome of the learning is solely based on the observed input distributions. A second possibility is that learners use statistics to identify particular abstract syntactic representations (Miller & Chomsky 1963; Pinker 1984; Yang 2006). On this view, children have predetermined linguistic knowledge on possible structures and the acquired representations have deductive consequences beyond what can be derived from the observed statistical distributions alone. This dissertation examines how the environment interacts with the structure of the learner, and proposes a linking between distributional approach and nativist approach to language acquisition. To investigate this more general question, we focus on how infants, adults and neural networks acquire the phrase structure of their target language. This dissertation presents seven experiments, which show that adults and infants can project their generalizations to novel structures, while the Simple Recurrent Network fails. Moreover, it will be shown that learners' generalizations go beyond the stimuli, but those generalizations are constrained in the same ways that natural languages are constrained. This is compatible with the view that statistical learning interacts with inherent representational system, but incompatible with the view that statistical learning is the sole mechanism by which the existence of phrase structure is discovered. This provides novel evidence that statistical learning interacts with innate constraints on possible representations, and that learners have a deductive power that goes beyond the input data. This suggests that statistical learning is used merely as a method for mapping the surface string to abstract representation, while innate knowledge specifies range of possible grammars and structures.
- ItemBinding Phenomena Within A Reductionist Theory of Grammatical Dependencies(2011) Drummond, Alex; Hornstein, Norbert; Linguistics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)This thesis investigates the implications of binding phenomena for the development of a reductionist theory of grammatical dependencies. The starting point is the analysis of binding and control in Hornstein (2001, 2009). A number of revisions are made to this framework in order to develop a simpler and empirically more successful account of binding phenomena. The major development is the rejection of economy-based accounts of Condition B effects. It is argued that Condition B effects derive directly from an anti-locality constraint on A-movement. Competition between different dependency types is crucial to the analysis, but is formulated in terms of a heavily revised version of Reinhart's (2006) "No Sneaking" principle, rather than in terms of a simple economy preference for local over non-local dependencies. In contrast to Reinhart's No Sneaking, the condition presented here ("Keeping Up Appearances") has a phonologically rather than semantically specified comparison set. A key claim of the thesis is that the morphology of pronouns and reflexives is of little direct grammatical import. It is argued that much of the complexity of the contemporary binding literature derives from the attempt to capture the distribution of pronouns and reflexives in largely, or purely, syntactic and semantic terms. The analysis presented in this dissertation assigns a larger role to language-specific "spellout" rules, and to general pragmatic/interpretative principles governing the choice between competing morphemes. Thus, a core assumption of binding theory from LGB onwards is rejected: there is no syntactic theory which accounts for the distribution of pronouns and reflexives. Rather, there is a core theory of grammatical dependencies which must be conjoined with with phonological, morphological and pragmatic principles to yield the distributional facts in any given language. In this respect, the approach of the thesis is strictly non-lexicalist: there are no special lexical items which trigger certain kinds of grammatical dependency. All non-strictly-local grammatical dependencies are formed via A- or A-chains, and copies in these chains are pronounced according to a mix of universal principles and language-specific rules. The broader goal of the thesis is to further the prospects for a "reductionist" approach to grammatical dependencies along these lines. The most detailed empirical component of the thesis is an investigation of the problem posed by binding out of prepositional phrases. Even in a framework incorporating sideward movement, the apparent lack of c-command in this configuration poses a problem. Chapter 3 attempts to revive a variant of the traditional "reanalysis" account of binding out of PP. This segues into an investigation of certain properties of pseudopassivization and preposition stranding. The analyses in this thesis are stated within an informal syntactic framework. However, in order to investigate the precise implications of a particular economy condition, Merge over Move, a partial formalization of this framework is developed in chapter 4. This permits the economy condition to be stated precisely, and in a manner which does not have adverse implications for computational complexity.
- ItemThe cognitive basis for encoding and navigating linguistic structure(2014) Parker, Daniel; Phillips, Colin; Linguistics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)This dissertation is concerned with the cognitive mechanisms that are used to encode and navigate linguistic structure. Successful language understanding requires mechanisms for efficiently encoding and navigating linguistic structure in memory. The timing and accuracy of linguistic dependency formation provides valuable insights into the cognitive basis of these mechanisms. Recent research on linguistic dependency formation has revealed a profile of selective fallibility: some linguistic dependencies are rapidly and accurately implemented, but others are not, giving rise to "linguistic illusions". This profile is not expected under current models of grammar or language processing. The broad consensus, however, is that the profile of selective fallibility reflects dependency-based differences in memory access strategies, including the use of different retrieval mechanisms and the selective use of cues for different dependencies. In this dissertation, I argue that (i) the grain-size of variability is not dependency-type, and (ii) there is not a homogenous cause for linguistic illusions. Rather, I argue that the variability is a consequence of how the grammar interacts with general-purpose encoding and access mechanisms. To support this argument, I provide three types of evidence. First, I show how to "turn on" illusions for anaphor resolution, a phenomena that has resisted illusions in the past, reflecting a cue- combinatorics scheme that prioritizes structural information in memory retrieval. Second, I show how to "turn off" a robust illusion for negative polarity item (NPI) licensing, reflecting access to the internal computations during the encoding and interpretation of emerging semantic/pragmatic representations. Third, I provide computational simulations that derive both the presence and absence of the illusions from within the same memory architecture. These findings lead to a new conception of how we mentally encode and navigate structured linguistic representations.
- ItemCOMMITMENT AND FLEXIBILITY IN THE DEVELOPING PARSER(2010) Omaki, Akira; Phillips, Colin; Linguistics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)This dissertation investigates adults and children's sentence processing mechanisms, with a special focus on how multiple levels of linguistic representation are incrementally computed in real time, and how this process affects the parser's ability to later revise its early commitments. Using cross-methodological and cross-linguistic investigations of long-distance dependency processing, this dissertation demonstrates how paying explicit attention to the procedures by which linguistic representations are computed is vital to understanding both adults' real time linguistic computation and children's reanalysis mechanisms. The first part of the dissertation uses time course evidence from self-paced reading and eye tracking studies (reading and visual world) to show that long-distance dependency processing can be decomposed into a sequence of syntactic and interpretive processes. First, the reading experiments provide evidence that suggests that filler-gap dependencies are constructed before verb information is accessed. Second, visual world experiments show that, in the absence of information that would allow hearers to predict verb content in advance, interpretive processes in filler-gap dependency computation take around 600ms. These results argue for a predictive model of sentence interpretation in which syntactic representations are computed in advance of interpretive processes. The second part of the dissertation capitalizes on this procedural account of filler-gap dependency processing, and reports cross-linguistic studies on children's long-distance dependency processing. Interpretation data from English and Japanese demonstrate that children actively associate a fronted wh-phrase with the first VP in the sentence, and successfully retract such active syntactic commitments when the lack of felicitous interpretation is signaled by verb information, but not when it is signaled by syntactic information. A comparison of the process of anaphor reconstruction in adults and children further suggests that verb-based thematic information is an effective revision cue for children. Finally, distributional analyses of wh-dependencies in child-directed speech are conducted to investigate how parsing constraints impact language acquisition. It is shown that the actual properties of the child parser can skew the input distribution, such that the effective distribution differs drastically from the input distribution seen from a researcher's perspective. This suggests that properties of developing perceptual mechanisms deserve more attention in language acquisition research.
- ItemComparative psychosyntax(2015) Chacón, Dustin Alfonso; Phillips, Colin; Linguistics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)Every difference between languages is a “choice point” for the syntactician, psycholinguist, and language learner. The syntactician must describe the differences in representations that the grammars of different languages can assign. The psycholinguist must describe how the comprehension mechanisms search the space of the representations permitted by a grammar to quickly and effortlessly understand sentences in real time. The language learner must determine which representations are permitted in her grammar on the basis of her primary linguistic evidence. These investigations are largely pursued independently, and on the basis of qualitatively different data. In this dissertation, I show that these investigations can be pursued in a way that is mutually informative. Specifically, I show how learnability con- cerns and sentence processing data can constrain the space of possible analyses of language differences. In Chapter 2, I argue that “indirect learning”, or abstract, cross-contruction syntactic inference, is necessary in order to explain how the learner determines which complementizers can co-occur with subjects gaps in her target grammar. I show that adult speakers largely converge in the robustness of the that-trace effect, a constraint on complementation complementizers and subject gaps observed in lan- guages like English, but unobserved in languages like Spanish or Italian. I show that realistic child-directed speech has very few long-distance subject extractions in En- glish, Spanish, and Italian, implying that learners must be able to distinguish these different hypotheses on the basis of other data. This is more consistent with more conservative approaches to these phenomena (Rizzi, 1982), which do not rely on ab- stract complementizer agreement like later analyses (Rizzi, 2006; Rizzi & Shlonsky, 2007). In Chapter 3, I show that resumptive pronoun dependencies inside islands in English are constructed in a non-active fashion, which contrasts with recent findings in Hebrew (Keshev & Meltzer-Asscher, ms). I propose that an expedient explanation of these facts is to suppose that resumptive pronouns in English are ungrammat- ical repair devices (Sells, 1984), whereas resumptive pronouns in island contexts are grammatical in Hebrew. This implies that learners must infer which analysis is appropriate for their grammars on the basis of some evidence in linguistic envi- ronment. However, a corpus study reveals that resumptive pronouns in islands are exceedingly rare in both languages, implying that this difference must be indirectly learned. I argue that theories of resumptive dependencies which analyze resump- tive pronouns as incidences of the same abstract construction (e.g., Hayon 1973; Chomsky 1977) license this indirect learning, as long as resumptive dependencies in English are treated as ungrammatical repair mechanisms. In Chapter 4, I compare active dependency formation processes in Japanese and Bangla. These findings suggest that filler-gap dependencies are preferentially resolved with the first position available. In Japanese, this is the most deeply em- bedded clause, since embedded clauses always precede the embedding verb(Aoshima et al., 2004; Yoshida, 2006; Omaki et al., 2014). Bangla allows a within-language comparison of the relationship between active dependency formation processes and word order, since embedded clauses may precede or follow the embedding verb (Bayer, 1996). However, the results from three experiments in Bangla are mixed, suggesting a weaker preference for a lineary local resolution of filler-gap dependen- cies, unlike in Japanese. I propose a number of possible explanations for these facts, and discuss how differences in processing profiles may be accounted for in a variety of ways. In Chapter 5, I conclude the dissertation.
- ItemCompetence and Performance in the Development of Principle C(2015) Sutton, Megan; Lidz, Jeffrey; Linguistics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)In order to understand the nature of a given linguistic phenomena in the adult grammar, language acquisition research explores how children's competence with respect to such a phenomena develops. However, diagnosing competence can be challenging because it is not directly observable. Researchers only have access to performance, which is mediated by additional factors and is not a direct reflection of competence. In this dissertation, I explore a case study of children's early syntactic knowledge. My in-depth analysis of Principle C at 30 months provides novel insights into diagnostics for underlying competence by utilizing two distinct methods of analysis. The first analysis explores alternative mechanisms that have been proposed to account for early Principle C effects. By comparing across multiple linguistic contexts, I show that Principle C knowledge is the only mechanism which can account for all observed performance. The second analysis explores the deployment processes that are required to implement competence in performance. I present a novel analytic approach to identifying underlying knowledge which utilizes independent measures of these deployment processes. I show that individual differences in syntactic processing predict individual differences in interpretation, implicating syntactic processing in Principle C performance at 30 months. Together, these findings extend our knowledge of the developmental pattern that characterizes Principle C, which can contribute to debates about the origin of this constraint as part of the grammar. This research provides new depth to investigations of children's early syntactic knowledge by highlighting new methods for diagnosing competence from observed performance.
- ItemTHE COMPUTATION OF VERB-ARGUMENT RELATIONS IN ONLINE SENTENCE COMPREHENSION(2020) Liao, Chia-Hsuan; Lau, Ellen; Linguistics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)Understanding how verbs are related to their arguments in real time is critical to building a theory of online language comprehension. This dissertation investigates the incremental processing of verb-argument relations with three interrelated approaches that use the event-related potential (ERP) methodology. First, although previous studies on verb-argument computations have mainly focused on relating nouns to simple events denoted by a simple verb, here I show by investigating compound verbs I can dissociate the timing of the subcomputations involved in argument role assignment. A set of ERP experiments in Mandarin comparing the processing of resultative compounds (Kid bit-broke lip: the kid bit his lip such that it broke) and coordinate compounds (Store owner hit-scolded employee: the store owner hit and scolded an employee) provides evidence for processing delays associated with verbs instantiating the causality relation (breaking-BY-biting) relative to the coordinate relation (hitting-AND-scolding). Second, I develop an extension of classic ERP work on the detection of argument role-reversals (the millionaire that the servant fired) that allows me to determine the temporal stages by which argument relations are computed, from argument identification to thematic roles. Our evidence supports a three-stage model where an initial word association stage is followed by a second stage where arguments of a verb are identified, and only at a later stage does the parser start to consider argument roles. Lastly, I investigate the extent to which native language (L1) subcategorization knowledge can interfere with second language (L2) processing of verb-argument relations, by examining the ERP responses to sentences with verbs that have mismatched subcategorization constraints in L1 Mandarin and L2 English (“My sister listened the music”). The results support my hypothesis that L1 subcategorization knowledge is difficult for L2 speakers to override online, as they show some sensitivity to subcategorization violations in offline responses but not in ERPs. These data indicate that computing verb-argument relations requires accessing lexical syntax, which is vulnerable to L1 interference in L2. Together, these three ERP studies allow us to begin to put together a full model of the sub-processes by which verb-argument relations are constructed in real time in L1 and L2.