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date: 19 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The study of natural language learnability is necessarily multidisciplinary. Its aim is to devise and evaluate possible psychological mechanisms by which a system bounded by the cognitive capabilities and linguistic exposure of a young child might be able to arrive at rich knowledge of an adult human language. The abstract formal models that launched this discipline have over the years become increasingly responsive to theoretical linguistic discoveries about the properties of natural language grammars, many embracing parameter theory in particular as a systemization of the ways in which grammars may differ. The concept of grammar acquisition as the setting of parameters has inspired a number of recent learning models, whose details are compared and contrasted here. But it has not swept away all learnability problems, as it has become clear that the input cues needed to trigger the correct parameter settings are often ambiguous or opaque.

Keywords: language acquisition, parameter setting, parametric ambiguity, universal grammar, i-language, e-language, subset principle, domain search, input guidance, structural trigger

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