Computational Modeling for Language Acquisition: A Tutorial With Syntactic Islands Purpose Given the growing prominence of computational modeling in the acquisition research community, we present a tutorial on how to use computational modeling to investigate learning strategies that underlie the acquisition process. This is useful for understanding both typical and atypical linguistic development. Method We provide a general ... Tutorial
Tutorial  |   June 01, 2015
Computational Modeling for Language Acquisition: A Tutorial With Syntactic Islands
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Lisa S. Pearl
    University of California, Irvine
  • Jon Sprouse
    University of Connecticut, Storrs
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Lisa S. Pearl: lpearl@uci.edu
  • Editor and Associate Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor and Associate Editor: Rhea Paul×
Article Information
Development / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language / Tutorial
Tutorial   |   June 01, 2015
Computational Modeling for Language Acquisition: A Tutorial With Syntactic Islands
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2015, Vol. 58, 740-753. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-14-0362
History: Received December 30, 2014 , Revised March 22, 2015 , Accepted March 30, 2015
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2015, Vol. 58, 740-753. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-14-0362
History: Received December 30, 2014; Revised March 22, 2015; Accepted March 30, 2015

Purpose Given the growing prominence of computational modeling in the acquisition research community, we present a tutorial on how to use computational modeling to investigate learning strategies that underlie the acquisition process. This is useful for understanding both typical and atypical linguistic development.

Method We provide a general overview of why modeling can be a particularly informative tool and some general considerations when creating a computational acquisition model. We then review a concrete example of a computational acquisition model for complex structural knowledge referred to as syntactic islands. This includes an overview of syntactic islands knowledge, a precise definition of the acquisition task being modeled, the modeling results, and how to meaningfully interpret those results in a way that is relevant for questions about knowledge representation and the learning process.

Conclusions Computational modeling is a powerful tool that can be used to understand linguistic development. The general approach presented here can be used to investigate any acquisition task and any learning strategy, provided both are precisely defined.

Acknowledgments
The ideas presented in this tutorial were drawn from the authors' research, supported by National Science Foundation Grants BCS-0843896 (awarded to Lisa Pearl and Jon Sprouse) and BCS-1347028 (awarded to Lisa Pearl and Jon Sprouse).
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