Parameter setting

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Parameter setting

  1. 1. Parameter Setting and the Subset Principle
  2. 2. Some observations <ul><li>Language is complicated </li></ul>DP PP N’ N NP visit DP his DP D’ D DP [poss] to the hospital i VP IP V V’ I’ I [past] DP upset j t j t i her DP
  3. 3. Some observations <ul><li>Children always succeed </li></ul><ul><li>Children arrive at the same language as the rest of their speech community </li></ul><ul><li>This is remarkable, given the data that children learn language from. </li></ul>
  4. 4. The poverty of the stimulus <ul><li>children exposed to data containing errors </li></ul><ul><li>different children exposed to different data </li></ul><ul><li>children don’t get negative evidence </li></ul><ul><li>children aren’t directly rewarded </li></ul><ul><li>children get incomplete data </li></ul>
  5. 5. The poverty of the stimulus problem <ul><li>A paradox: Children reliably acquire a complex system from a degenerate set of data. </li></ul>
  6. 6. The poverty of the stimulus problem <ul><li>A solution: Universal Grammar </li></ul><ul><li>Children are born with a language instinct </li></ul>
  7. 7. Language acquisition An interaction between grammar and data S --> NP VP NP --> DET N VP --> V NP PP PP --> P NP S --> S and S NP --> NP andNP
  8. 8. Apparent Complexity <ul><li>“ A striking discovery of modern generative grammar is that natural languages seem to be built on the same basic plan. Many differences among languages represent not separate designs but different settings of a few &quot;parameters&quot; that allow languages to vary, or different choices of rule types from a fairly small inventory of possibilities. ” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pinker, Language Acquisition </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Universal Grammar: the basic idea Input (data) Output (grammar) “ An engineer faced with the problem of designing a device for meeting the given input-output conditions would naturally conclude that the basic properties of the output are a consequence of the design of the device. Nor is there any plausible alternative to this assumption” Chomsky (1967) Acquisition device
  10. 10. Universal Grammar <ul><li>Innate linguistic knowledge which guides children during language acquisition. </li></ul><ul><li>defines the range of possible human languages </li></ul><ul><li>gives an acquisition procedure for picking the correct grammar (LAD) </li></ul>
  11. 11. UG and language acquisition <ul><li>UG helps in two ways: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Principles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Certain invariant properties of language. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Parameters </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A small set of dimensions along which languages can vary. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  12. 12. A Principle: structure-dependency <ul><li>Syntactic operations depend on constituent structure. </li></ul><ul><li>Example: yes/no questions </li></ul><ul><li>Is i the girl t i tall? </li></ul><ul><li>Is i the dog that is in the garden t i barking? </li></ul><ul><li>Formed by moving main clause auxiliary verb to front of subject. </li></ul><ul><li>Not, e.g., moving the first aux to the front. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Structure-dependency and stimulus poverty <ul><li>The crucial type of example: </li></ul><ul><li>Is i the dog that is in the garden t i barking? </li></ul><ul><li>“ You can go over a vast amount of data of experience without ever finding such a case ” Chomsky, in Piattelli-Palmarini (1980) </li></ul>
  14. 14. Another Principle: recursion <ul><li>All languages are recursive. </li></ul><ul><li>it’s in UG </li></ul><ul><li>kids know it in advance </li></ul>
  15. 15. Principles: a summary <ul><li>UG contains information on invariant properties of language </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Principles </li></ul></ul><ul><li>All languages have these properties </li></ul><ul><ul><li>universal </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Children don’t have to learn these properties </li></ul><ul><ul><li>innate knowledge </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Parameters <ul><li>Language acquisition is “ the growth of cognitive structures along an internally directed course under the triggering … effect of the environment ” (Chomsky 1980) </li></ul>
  17. 17. Parameter: head-complement ordering <ul><li>The head-order parameter has two settings: </li></ul><ul><li>head-initial </li></ul><ul><li>head-final </li></ul>
  18. 18. Typological data <ul><li>From Dryer (1992) </li></ul>Class Percentage of Genera Verb-Object, Preposition 33% Verb-Object, Postposition 3% Object-Verb, Preposition 3% Object-Verb, Postposition 61%
  19. 19. Parameter: head-complement ordering <ul><li>What order do heads and complements appear in? </li></ul>IP CP C’ C if VP IP I’ I will DP VP V’ V write DP PP P’ P to
  20. 20. Parameter: head-complement ordering <ul><li>What order do heads and complements appear in? </li></ul>IP CP C’ C ka VP IP I’ I -u DP VP V’ V kak DP PP P’ P ni
  21. 21. The null subject parameter <ul><li>“… all languages in some sense have subjects, but there is a parameter corresponding to whether a language allows the speaker to omit the subject in a tensed sentence with an inflected verb. This &quot;null subject&quot; parameter (sometimes called &quot;PRO-drop&quot;) is set to &quot;off&quot; in English and &quot;on&quot; in Spanish and Italian (Chomsky, 1981). ” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pinker, Language Acquisition </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. The null subject parameter <ul><li>Yes: tensed clauses can have null subjects </li></ul><ul><li>No: every tensed clause must have an overt subject </li></ul><ul><li>No setting: English (French, Edo, …) </li></ul><ul><li>he speaks </li></ul><ul><li>* speaks </li></ul><ul><li>Yes setting: Italian (Spanish, Navajo, …) </li></ul><ul><li>lui parla </li></ul><ul><li>parla </li></ul>
  23. 23. The null subject parameter <ul><li>Dummy subjects </li></ul><ul><li>it is raining / * is raining </li></ul><ul><li>piove </li></ul><ul><li>Non-movement of subjects </li></ul><ul><li>Alex will come / * will come Alex </li></ul><ul><li>Alex verrá / verrá Alex </li></ul>
  24. 24. The null subject parameter <ul><li>The best parameters are those which have several different effects. There are a number of things which seem to “cluster” with the availability of null subjects (providing clues as to what the actual parameter is ). </li></ul><ul><ul><li>null subjects are allowed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>no pleonastic (dummy) pronouns ( it’s raining ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>rich verbal agreement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>verb can precede subject in declaratives ( came John ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Embedded subject can be questioned with overt that </li></ul></ul>
  25. 25. A parameter space polysynthesis head directionality subject side verb attraction subject placement serial verb null subject yes no Mohawk, Warlpiri final initial Japanese, Turkish initial final Malagasy, Tzotzil yes no no yes English Edo, Khmer high low Welsh, Zapotec no yes French Spanish, Romanian
  26. 26. Parameter Setting <ul><li>How does the child set the parameters? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Settings ordered </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Default setting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Settings change with positive evidence. </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. The Subset Principle <ul><li>What’s the default setting? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No negative evidence. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Nothing to change a parameter setting from superset to subset. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A null-subject language is a superset of a language that requires subjects. </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. Parameters in L2 Learning <ul><li>Languages differ in the settings of parameters (as well as in the pronunciations of the words, etc.). </li></ul><ul><li>To learn a second language is to learn the parameter settings for that language. </li></ul><ul><li>Where do you keep the parameters from the second, third, etc. language? You don’t have a single parameter set two different ways, do you? </li></ul><ul><li>“ Parameter resetting” doesn’t mean monkeying with your L1 parameter settings, it means setting your L2 parameter to its appropriate setting. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Four views on the role of L1 parameters <ul><li>UG is still around to constrain L2/IL, parameter settings of L1 are adopted at first, then parameters are reset to match L2. </li></ul><ul><li>UG does not constrain L2/IL but L1 does, L2 can adopt properties of L1 but can’t reset the parameters (except perhaps in the face of brutally direct evidence, e.g., headedness). </li></ul><ul><li>IL cannot be described in terms of parameter settings—it is not UG-constrained. </li></ul><ul><li>UG works the same in L1A and L2A. L1 shouldn’t have any effect. </li></ul>
  30. 30. Some parameters that have been looked at in L2 <ul><li>Pro drop (null subject) parameter (whether empty subjects are allowed; Spanish yes , English no ) </li></ul><ul><li>Head parameter (where the head is in X-bar structure with respect to its complement; Japanese head- final , English head -initial ) </li></ul><ul><li>ECP/ that -trace effect (*Who did you say that t left? English: yes , Dutch: no ). </li></ul><ul><li>Subjacency/bounding nodes (English: DP and IP, Italian/French: DP and CP). </li></ul>
  31. 31. Null subject parameter <ul><li>Spanish (+NS) L1 learning English (–NS) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>An error constituting transfer of +NS would be omitting a subject in an English sentence, which requires a subject. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>English (–NS) L1 learning Spanish (+NS) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What would count as an error constituting transfer of +NS? Trickier—have to look for context where Spanish would definitely drop the subject, and see if English speakers incorrectly retain the subject. Even then, does that mean the Spanish learner doesn’t have the parameter down, or just hasn’t worked out the pragmatics of where a subject should be dropped? </li></ul></ul>
  32. 32. Principles and Parameters: summary <ul><li>Principles: provided by UG, invariant </li></ul><ul><li>Parameters: provided by UG, languages vary in parameter settings </li></ul><ul><li>P&P explains: </li></ul><ul><li>language acquisition </li></ul><ul><li>language universals </li></ul><ul><li>linguistic variation </li></ul>
  33. 33. Universal Grammar: summary <ul><li>The poverty of the stimulus problem </li></ul><ul><ul><li>language can’t be learned purely from the data children are exposed to. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Children must have innate linguistic knowledge </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Universal Grammar </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Principles and Parameters approach </li></ul><ul><ul><li>one way of thinking about UG </li></ul></ul>

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