Advertisement

A Connectionist Simulation of the Empirical Acquisition of Grammatical Relations

  • William C. Morris
  • Garrison W. Cottrell
  • Jeffrey Elman
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 1778)

Abstract

This paper proposes an account of the acquisition of grammatical relations using the basic concepts of connectionism and a construction-based theory of grammar. Many previous accounts of first-language acquisition assume that grammatical relations (e.g., the grammatical subject and object of a sentence) and linking rules are universal and innate; this is necessary to provide a first set of assumptions in the target language to allow deductive processes to test hypotheses and/or set parameters.

In contrast to this approach, we propose that grammatical relations emerge rather late in the language-learning process. Our theoretical proposal is based on two observations. First, early production of childhood speech is formulaic and becomes systematic in a progressive fashion. Second, grammatical relations themselves are family-resemblance categories that cannot be described by a single parameter. This leads to the notion that grammatical relations are learned in a bottom up fashion. Combining this theoretical position with the notion that the main purpose of language is communication, we demonstrate the emergence of the notion of “subject” in a simple recurrent network that learns to map from sentences to semantic roles. We analyze the hidden layer representations of the emergent subject, and demonstrate that these representations correspond to a radially-structured category. We also claim that the pattern of generalization and undergeneralization demonstrated by the network conforms to what we expect from the data on children’s generalizations.

Keywords

Argument Structure Experiential Verb Semantic Role Embed Clause Passive Voice 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    Akhtar, N.: Characterizing English-speaking children’s understanding of SVO word order (to appear)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bloom, L.: One Word at a Time: The Use of Single Word Utterances Before Syntax. Mouton de Gruyter, The Hague (1973)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bloom, L., Lifter, K., Hafitz, J.: Semantics of verbs and the development of verb inflection in child language. Language 56, 386–412 (1980)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Borer, H., Wexler, K.: The maturation of syntax. In: Roeper, T., Williams, E. (eds.) Parameter Setting. D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht (1987)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bowerman, M.: Learning the structure of causative verbs: A study in the relationship of cognitive, semantic and syntactic development. In: Papers and Reports on Child Language Development, vol. 8, pp. 142–178. Department of Linguistics, Stanford University (1974)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bowerman, M.: Semantic factors in the acquisition of rules for word use and sentence construction. In: Morehead, D.M., Morehead, A.E. (eds.) Normal and deficient child language. University Park Press, Baltimore (1976)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bowerman, M.: Evaluating competing linguistic models with language acquisition data: Implications of developmental errors with causative verbs. Quaderni di semantica 3, 5–66 (1982)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bowerman, M.: Reorganizational processes in lexical and syntactic development. In: Wanner, E., Gleitman, L.R. (eds.) Language acquisition: The state of the art, pp. 319–346. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1982)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Bowerman, M.: The “no negative evidence” problem: How do children avoid an overgeneral grammar? In: Hawkins, J.A. (ed.) Explaining Language Universals, pp. 73–101. Basil Blackwell, Oxford (1988)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Bowerman, M.: Mapping thematic roles onto syntactic functions: Are children helped by innate linking rules? Linguistics 28, 1253–1289 (1990)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Braine, M.D.S.: On learning the grammatical order of words. Psychological Review 70, 323–348 (1963)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Braine, M.D.S.: Children’s first word combinations. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, vol. 41. University of Chicago Press, Chicago (1976)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Brown, R.: A First Language: The Early Stages. Harvard University Press, Cambridge (1973)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Bybee, J.: Morphology: A Study of the Relation between Meaning and Form. John Benjamins, Amsterdam (1985)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Clark, E.V.: Early verbs, event-types, and inflections. In: Johnson, C.E., Gilbert, J.H.V. (eds.) Children’s Language, vol. 9, pp. 61–73. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah (1996)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Cottrell, G.W.: A Connectionist Approach to Word Sense Disambiguation. Research Notes in Artificial Intelligence. Morgan Kaufmann, San Mateo (1989)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    de Villiers, J.G., Phinney, M., Avery, A.: Understanding passives with non-action verbs. In: Paper presented at the Seventh Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, October 8-10 (1982)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Dixon, R.M.W.: The Dyirbal Language of North Queensland. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1972)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Dixon, R.M.W.: Ergativity. Language 55, 59–138 (1979)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Dixon, R.M.W.: Ergativity. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1994)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Dowty, D.: Thematic proto-roles and argument selection. Language 67(3), 547–619 (1991)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Elman, J.L.: Finding structure in time. Cognitive Science 14, 179–211 (1990)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Foley, W.A., Van Valin Jr., R.D.: Functional Syntax and Universal Grammar. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1984)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Goldberg, A.E.: Argument Structure Constructions. PhD thesis, University of California, Berkeley (1992)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Goldberg, A.E.: A Construction Grammar Approach to Argument Structure. University of Chicago Press, Chicago (1995)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Hirsh-Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R.M.: The Origins of Grammar: Evidence from Early Language Comprehension. MIT Press, Cambridge (1996)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Hyams, N.M.: Language acquisition and the theory of parameters. D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht (1986)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Jain, A.N.: A connectionist architecture for sequential symbolic domains. Technical Report CMU-CS-89-187, Carnegie Mellon University (1989)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Keenan, E.L.: Towards a universal definition of “Subject”. In: Li, C. (ed.) Subject and Topic, pp. 303–334. Academic Press, New York (1976)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Lakoff, G.: Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things. Chicago University Press, Chicago (1987)Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Langacker, R.W.: Theoretical Prerequisites, vol. 1. Stanford University Press, Stanford (1987)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Langacker, R.W.: Concept, Image, and Symbol: The Cognitive Basis of Grammar. Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin (1991)Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Langacker, R.W.: Descriptive Application. Foundations of Cognitive Grammar, vol. 2. Stanford University Press, Stanford (1991)Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Levin, B.: On the Nature of Ergativity. PhD thesis, MIT (1983)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Manning, C.D.: Ergativity: Argument Structure and Grammatical Relations. PhD thesis, Stanford (1994)Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Marantz, A.P.: On the nature of grammatical relations. MIT Press, Cambridge (1984)Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Maratsos, M., Fox, D.E.C., Becker, J.A., Chalkley, M.A.: Semantic restrictions on children’s passives. Cognition 19, 167–191 (1985)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Maratsos, M., Kuczaj II, S.A., Fox, D.E.C., Chalkley, M.A.: Some empirical studies in the acquisition of transformational relations: Passives, negatives, and the past tense. In: Collins, W.A. (ed.) Children’s Language and Communication: The Minnesota Symposia on Child Psychology, vol. 12, pp. 1–45. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale (1979)Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Miikkulainen, R.: Subsymbolic Natural Language Processing: An Integrated Model of Scripts, Lexicon, and Memory. MIT Press, Cambridge (1993)Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Morris, W.C.: Emergent Grammatical Relations: An Inductive Learning System. PhD thesis, University of California, San Diego (1998)Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Naigles, L.: Children use syntax to learn verb meanings. Journal of Child Language 17, 357–374 (1990)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Naigles, L., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R., Gleitman, L.R., Gleitman, H.: From linguistic form to meaning: Evidence for syntactic bootstrapping in the two-year-old. Paper presented at the Twelfth Annual Boston University Child Language Conference, Boston MA (1987)Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Olguin, R., Tomasello, M.: Twenty-five-month-old children do not have a grammatical category of verb. Cognitive Development 8, 245–272 (1993)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Pine, J.M., Lieven, E.V.M., Rowland, C.F.: Comparing different models of the development of the english verb category. MS (forthcoming)Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Pine, J.M., Martindale, H.: Syntactic categories in the speech of young children: The case of the determiner. Journal of Child Language 23, 369–395 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Pinker, S.: Language Learnability and Language Development. Harvard University Press, Cambridge (1984)Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Pinker, S.: Learnability and Cognition: The Acquisition of Argument Structure. MIT Press, Cambridge MA (1989)Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Pinker, S., LeBeaux, D.S., Frost, L.A.: Productivity and constraints in the acquisition of the passive. Cognition 26, 195–267 (1987)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Rumelhart, D.E., McClelland, J.L.: On learning the past tenses of English verbs. In: McClelland, J.L., Rumelhart, D.E. (eds.) Parallel Distributed Processing: Explorations in the Microstructure of Cognition, vol. 2, pp. 216–271. The MIT Press, Cambridge (1986)Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Rumelhart, D.E., McClelland, J.L.: Parallel Distributed Processing: Explorations in the Microstructure of Cognition, vol. 1. The MIT Press, Cambridge (1986)Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Schachter, P.: The subject in Philippine languages: Topic, Actor, Actor-Topic, or none of the above? In: Li, C. (ed.) Subject and Topic, pp. 491–518. Academic Press, New York (1976)Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    St. John, M.F., McClelland, J.L.: Learning and applying contextual constraints in sentence comprehension. Artificial Intelligence 46, 217–257 (1990)Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Tomasello, M.: First verbs: A case study of early grammatical development. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1992)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Tomasello, M., Brooks, P.J.: Early syntactic development: A construction grammar approach. In: Barrett, M. (ed.) The Development of Language. UCL Press, London (in press)Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Tomasello, M., Olguin, R.: Twenty-three-month-old children do have a grammatical category of noun. Cognitive Development 8, 451–464 (1993)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Valian, V.: Syntactic categories in the speech of young children. Developmental Psychology 22, 562–579 (1986)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Valian, V.: Syntactic subjects in the early speech of American and Italian children. Cognition 40, 21–81 (1991)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Van Everbroeck, E.: Language type frequency and learnability: A connectionist appraisal. In: Hahn, M., Stoness, S.C. (eds.) The Proceedings of the Twenty First Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, Mahwah NJ, pp. 755–760. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates (1999)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • William C. Morris
    • 1
  • Garrison W. Cottrell
    • 1
  • Jeffrey Elman
    • 2
  1. 1.Computer Science and Engineering DepartmentUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  2. 2.Center for Research in Language, Department of Cognitive ScienceUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA

Personalised recommendations