ILS Colloquium


16 April 2020
10:30 - 11:45
Microsoft Teams

Padraic Monaghan

How are vocabulary and grammar acquired? Insights from artificial language learning studies

Lancaster University

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Studies of artificial language learning in laboratory conditions provide enormously powerful methods for isolating and testing particular aspects of language that drive and promote language acquisition. However, these tools only apply if they have validity, that is, that they actually reflect aspects of natural language learning. I will present a range of artificial language learning studies that we have conducted that vary in how “artificial” they actually are – from presenting abstract artificial speech to situated, grammatically complex language. In particular, I show how our recent studies can address key questions in language acquisition that require simultaneous acquisition of both vocabulary and grammar. We show that the interconnectedness of requiring vocabulary to learn grammar, and requiring grammar to learn vocabulary, can be resolved by the learner. In short, a range of artificial language learning techniques are now available, and provide more powerful tools than ever before for investigating (natural) language acquisition.