In December 2011 I started my individual, NWO-funded, PhD project entitled 'Learning Non-Adjacent Dependencies: A Mechanism for Language Acquisition?'. In it, I employ an artificial grammar learning (AGL) paradigm to investigate the various factors that play a role in the ability to detect non-adjacent dependencies (NADs, i.e. remote a...b correspondences where a specific token a predicts, with high probability, the occurrence of a specific token bat a distance). The aim of my project is to verify that this (distributional) learning mechanism could, in principle, serve as an L1 acquisition mechanism in picking up morpho-syntactic dependencies in natural languages (e.g. The princess is kissing the frog).
My strategy is to identify computational constraints in NAD-learning (e.g. restrictions on distance between dependent elements, influence of acoustic salience, etc.) and show that they are consistent with general properties of morpho-syntactic dependencies in natural languages.

Wetenschappelijke expertises
artificial grammar learning
Gegenereerd op 2017-11-19 02:04:58
Alle publicaties
  2017 - Doctoral thesis 1 (Research UU / Graduation UU)
Grama, I.C. (16-06-2017). Learning Non-Adjacent Dependencies: A Mechanism for Language Acquisition. (172 p.). LOT Dissertation series ; 454 .
  2016 - Artikelen
Grama, Ileana C., Kerkhoff, Annemarie & Wijnen, Frank (09-02-2016). Gleaning Structure from Sound - The Role of Prosodic Contrast in Learning Non-adjacent Dependencies. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, (pp. 1-23) (23 p.).
  2016 - Poster
Grama, I.C., Kerkhoff, A.O. & Wijnen, F.N.K. (25-06-2016). The Negative Effect of Prior Exposure on Remote Dependency Learning.
  2015 - Voordrachten / lezingen
I.C. Grama (09-10-2015) Abstract: Adults and infant as young as 15 months have been shown to possess the ability to detect relationships between remote (non-adjacent) words in unfamiliar input (Gómez, 2002; Gómez & Maye, 2005; Kerkhoff et al., 2013). This ability may aid young L1 learners in detecting dependencies in their own native language, often marking important syntactic relationships like agreement or aspectual paradigms: for instance, by 18 months English-learning infants detect the difference between The cook is often baking and *The cook can often baking, demonstrating sensitivity to the relationship between the auxiliary and the aspect-denoting suffix on the verb (Santelmann & Jusczyk, 1998). The emergence of a remote dependency learning mechanism around the same age as sensitivity to morpho-syntactic dependencies in the native language suggests the possibility that it is this very learning mechanism which supports the acquisition of morpho-syntactic relationships; however, research up to date has offered little more than proof of concept in favor of this hypothesis. Remote dependency learning has been shown to be a highly constrained learning mechanism: dependencies are reliably detected only in the presence of segmentation cues (Peña et al. 2002) or phonological cues (Newport & Aslin, 2004; Onnis et al., 2005), only if presented in a sufficiently variable context (Gómez, 2002), and only within a relatively small working memory window (Grama et al., 2013). Using an artificial grammar learning paradigm with both adults and infants, in this project I set out to investigate whether the specific ways in which remote dependency learning is constrained allow it to be a potentially viable tool for language acquisition. In Part 1 of my presentation I look at the perceptual/prosodic properties of the kind of (functional) words and morphemes that engage in morpho-syntactic dependencies; I investigate how these properties affect the detection of dependencies, showing that (i) remote dependency learning is affected by perceptual cues, (ii)Gestalt principles of perception guide learning, such that dependencies are easier to learn when the dependent elements are perceptually similar to each other and distinct in their environment, (iii) the perceptual cues that mark functional words/morphemes in natural languages may be crucial in detecting morpho-syntactic dependencies. In Part 2, I consider the developmental timeline of the acquisition of morpho-syntactic dependencies: sensitivity to individual functional words/morphemes precedes sensitivity to morpho-syntactic dependencies. I investigate whether prior familiarity with individual elements of a dependency enhances the ability to detect dependencies between them. Preliminary results show that prior familiarization with individual elements in fact has a negative effect on the ability to detect dependencies, suggesting that words and dependencies between them should be learned at the same time; this hypothesis is compatible with an earlier emergence of the remote learning ability (Friederici et al., 2011).
I.C. Grama (25-06-2015) Presented a Poster entitled: 'The Negative Effect of Prior Exposure on Remote Dependency Learning'
  2014 - Voordrachten / lezingen
I.C. Grama (12-12-2014) oral presentation
I.C. Grama (14-03-2014) oral presentation
  2014 - Paper
Grama, I.C. & Wijnen, F.N.K. (14-03-2014). Natural is optimal: Perceptual cues to non-adjacent dependency learning.
  2013 - Artikelen in bundels / proceedings
Grama, I.C., Wijnen, F.N.K. & Kerkhoff, A.O. (2013). Constraints on Non-Adjacent Dependency-Learning: Distance Matters (An Artificial Grammar Study with Adults). In Sara Baiz, Nora Goldman & Rachel Hawkes (Eds.), BUCLD 37 Online Proceedings Supplement Boston, Massachussetts, Boston University Conference on Language Development 37.
  2013 - Voordrachten / lezingen
  2013 - Paper
Grama, I.C., Wijnen, F.N.K. & Kerkhoff, A.O. (05-04-2013). Perceptual cues to learning: modelling the acquisition of morpho-syntactic dependencies in an artificial grammar learning paradigm.
  2012 - Voordrachten / lezingen
I.C. Grama (02-11-2012) poster presentation
  2012 - Poster
Grama, I.C., Wijnen, F.N.K. & Kerkhoff, A.O. (02-11-2012). Constraints on Non-Adjacent Dependency-Learning: Distance Matters. Boston University Conference on Language Development (BUCLD 37).
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