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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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Recursion as a Usage-Based Skill

Recursion as a Usage-Based Skill

(p.197) 7 Recursion as a Usage-Based Skill
Creating Language

Morten H. Christiansen

Nick Chater

The MIT Press

The experience-based approach to language processing suggests that our ability to generate complex syntactic structures may emerge gradually, construction by construction. This contrasts with most current approaches to linguistic structure, which suggest that our generative linguistic capacity derives from recursion as a built-in fundamental property of grammar. Chapter 7 presents a usage-based perspective on recursive sentence processing in which recursion is proposed to be an acquired language processing skill. Evidence from computational modeling and behavioral experimentation underscores the role of experience in the processing of recursive structure and the importance of domain-general sequence learning as an underlying mechanism for our limited recursive abilities. The chapter closes by arguing that recursion, when viewed in light of evolution and acquisition, is best viewed as a usage-based skill.

Keywords:   Recursion, Recursive linguistic structure, Domain-general learning, Sequence learning, Usage-based skill, Experience-based processing

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