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Simple principles for a complex output: An experiment in early syntactic development

By Christophe Parisse


A set of iterative mechanisms, the Three-Step Algorithm, is proposed to account for the burst in the syntactic capacities of children over age two. These mechanisms are based on the children’s perception, memory, elementary rule-like behavior and cognitive capacities, and do not require any specific innate grammatical capacities. The relevance of the Three-Step Algorithm is tested, using the large Manchester corpus in the CHILDES database. The results show that 80% of the utterances can be exactly reconstructed and that, when incomplete reconstructions are taken into account, 94% of all utterances are reconstructed. The Three-Step Algorithm should be followed by the progressive acquisition of syntactic categories and use of slot-and-frame structures which lead to a greater and more complex linguistic mastery

Topics: Language, Developmental Psychology, Syntax
Year: 2001
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