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Creating LanguageIntegrating Evolution, Acquisition, and Processing$
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Morten H. Christiansen and Nick Chater

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262034319

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262034319.001.0001

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Experience-Based Language Processing

Experience-Based Language Processing

(p.169) 6 Experience-Based Language Processing
Creating Language

Morten H. Christiansen

Nick Chater

The MIT Press

The multiple-cue integration perspective on language acquisition highlights the rich nature of the input. In combination with the emphasis on the cultural evolution of language, this points to an experience-based account of language processing, in which exposure to language plays a crucial role in determining language ability. The sixth chapter therefore emphasizes the importance of experience for understanding language processing, focusing on the processing of relative clauses as an example. Evidence from corpus analyses, computational modeling, and psycholinguistic experimentation demonstrates that variation in relative clause processing—including differences across individuals—can be explained by variations in linguistic experience. Additional experimental data suggest that individual differences in domain-general abilities for sequence learning and memory-based chunking, in turn, may affect individuals’ ability to learn from linguistic experience. It is concluded that our language abilities emerge through complex interactions between linguistic experience and multiple constraints deriving from learning and processing.

Keywords:   Experience-based language processing, Relative clause processing, Chunking, Sequence learning, Multiple constraints, Linguistic experience, Domain-general abilities

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