Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 11 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article explains role of statistical learning in understanding language development and the interaction between human learning mechanisms and human languages. Infants' statistical learning abilities were first investigated to understand the mechanisms used to segment words from fluent speech, an important first step in acquiring new words. Studies of the connection between statistical learning and lexical acquisition examined regularities in adjacent elements. Statistical learning must be capable of additional levels of analysis if it is a significant component of syntactic development. Recent investigations demonstrate that human learners are not limited to simple adjacent probabilities, but seem to track the types of patterns necessary to exploit distributional cues to syntactic structures. Studies of statistical learning of syntax indicate that the powerful learning capacities include important constraints that help to address the problem of the potentially overburdened distributional learner. The constraints or biases also appear to act on non-linguistic input such as computer alert sounds, and visual nonsense shapes. The constraints that are highly suited to discovering linguistic structure may not be specific to language, but general characteristics of human learning. Statistical learning accounts of language acquisition present an alternative to the traditional innate universal grammar explanation for syntactic acquisition and for the similarities in organization across the world's languages.

Keywords: language development, human languages, statistical learning, syntactic structures, language acquisition

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.