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Can we devise a new measure of syntactic complexity for language acquisition? Duna ú jv á ros, March 18, 2004 Marijan Palmović Laboratory for Psycholinguistic Research University of Zagreb [email protected] http://public.srce.hr/labpolin/.

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Can we devise a new measure of syntactic complexity for language acquisition?

Dunaújváros, March 18, 2004

Marijan Palmović

Laboratory for Psycholinguistic Research

University of Zagreb

[email protected]

http://public.srce.hr/labpolin/


In Croatian:

- Does not discriminate between children of various developmental rate?


Vjeran language acquisition?

Antonija

Marina

Croatian corpus (CHILDES): MLU in morphemes


Vjeran language acquisition?

Antonija

Marina

Croatian corpus (CHILDES): MLU in words


Various measures for assessing lexical development 1 language acquisition?

Type/token ratio (TTR)

  • Generally:

  • Sensible to the size of the file:

  • - larger the file, smaller the TTR

  • -- questionable application in morphologically rich languages

  • Specifically, for Croatian:

  • Not an automatized measure

  • - does not reflect lexical complexity

  • -- ratio always around 1


Various measures for assessing lexical development 2 language acquisition?

  • Number of different words in a standard number of utterances

  • - longer the sentences (and therefore MLU), higher the NDW.

NDW – Number of Different Words

Fixing the number of tokens, not utterances

VOCD: a smarter TTR

- Accounts for the file size

-- takes randomly chosen samples of text


RRG language acquisition?

  • Role and Reference Grammar

  • Van Valin, LaPolla, 1997, Syntax



  • Aktionsart: language acquisition?

  • State

  • Achievement

  • Accomplishment

  • Activity

  • Active accomplishment

+

Causative counterparts

-causative state, causative achievement…

The ice melted. Hot water melted the ice.

Accomplishmentcausative accomplishment


Verb class Logical structure language acquisition?

State predicate’ (x) or (x,y)

Activity do’ (x, [predicate’ (x) or (x,y)])

Achievement INGR predicate’ (x) or (x,y)

Accomplishment BECOME predicate’ (x) or (x,y)

Lexical representation for the basic Aktionsart classes:

(Van Valin, LaPolla, 1997)

John ate the fish. do’ (John, [eat’ (John, fish)])

Macroroles actor undergoer


SENTENCE language acquisition?

CLAUSE

CORE

NUCLEUS

PRED

PERIPHERY

ARG

ARG

ADV

NP V NP

John ate the fish yesterday

U

A

do’ (John, [eat’ (John, fish)])


Antonija language acquisition?

(CHILDES)

Table representing the number of different verb classes

- the first step


Antonija, 1;9: language acquisition?

*ANT: Ja idem tebi.

%Eng: I am going to you.

*ANT: Ja ću ovo držati.

%Eng: I will hold this.

*ANT: Neću tebi dati olovku.

%Eng: I will not give you the pencil.



nuclear clausal language acquisition?

cosubordination coordination

strongest weakest

connection connection

Type type

Interclausal Relations Hierarchy - IRH


CL COO language acquisition?

9

Attach points to different juncture and nexus types…

…to modify the scale obtained from points given for logical form variety

CL SUB

8

CL COSUB

7

CORE COO

6

CORE SUB

5

CORE COSUB

4

NUC COO

3

NUC SUB

2

NUC COSUB

1


An example: language acquisition?

Strongest connection: nuclear cosubordination

English examples:

John pushed open the door.

Vince wiped the table clean.

Prediction:

-should be acquired first!


But in Croatian, these sentences are translated differently: language acquisition?

John je gurnuo vrata i otvorio ih.

Vinko je očistio stol.


  • T language acquisition?he question about the acquisition of complex sentences is reduced to the question about the child’s ability to learn IRH with the stronger connection ocurring first.

  • A child can deduce other grammatical properties of complex sentences, for example, the ones regarding the operators of tense and aspect.

  • Child starts to use clause linkage constructions before mastering the total range of constructions and operators possible in simple sentences.

  • e.g. Hocu piti cajeka. ‘I want to drink tea.’

  • Modify our scale with IRH (add 1 - 9 points)


verb + verb in infinitive language acquisition?

in the purposive construction

Examples:

Antonija, 1;7: two word sentences, e.g.Hocem ovo. ‘Want this.’ 5+0

Antonija, 1;9 core cosubordination:Idemo pjevati! ‘Let’s sing!’ 4+5

Antonija, 1;10: clausal coordination:

Nis-am pjev-a-la, nego ja s-am pak-a-la.

Be_not-1SG:PRES sing-5-PART:F but I be-1SG:PRES cry-5-PART:F

'I was not singing, but I was crying.'

4+9


Comparison with the MLU language acquisition?

Antonija, 1;7: two word sentences – 5:

MLU (words) = 1,57

MLU (morphemes) = 2,29

Antonija, 1;9 core cosubordination – 9:

MLU (words) = 2,43

MLU (morphemes) = 3,53

Antonija, 1;10: clausal coordination – 13:

MLU (words) = 2,19

MLU (morphemes) = 3,43


Problems: language acquisition?

  • It is not easy to apply – it is not an automatic measure

  • Selection of verb classes can be problematic due to the imperfective – perfective oppositions of verbs

  • Questionable predictivity regarding the complex sentences: children like to add sentences with conjection i ‘and’.


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