Linguistics and English Language

Language evolution seminar

Speaker: Svenja Wagner (Centre for Language Evolution, University of Edinburgh)

Title: Testing various predictors of acquisition ease of inflectional and agglutinating languages

Abstract: Different factors have been put forward that could affect the morphological structure of languages, including size of the speaker community, number of L2 speakers, and language contact situations giving rise to pidgins and creoles (Lupyan & Dale 2010, Siegel 2004, Trudgill 2012). In this study, I examine aspects related to the learning of morphological structures that could explain why some structures pose more difficulties than others. A common classification of languages with implications for the complexity of morphemes is that into morphological types. Specifically focusing on the differences between inflectional and agglutinating languages, I present results from an artificial language learning paradigm in which I manipulate the costs and benefits of learning each type. Several predictors have been suggested that should make agglutinating systems easier to learn than inflectional systems. However, we find that there is no significant difference between the success of acquisition of the agglutinating and the inflectional system. This suggests that agglutinating systems might have learning benefits over inflectional systems, but only under certain circumstances. I will discuss additional learning biases and further factors inbuilt into agglutinating systems that could make these systems difficult to acquire.


Seminars are organised by the Centre for Language Evolution

Andres Karjus

Centre for Language Evolution

Oct 23 2018 -

Language evolution seminar

2018-10-23: Testing various predictors of acquisition ease of inflectional and agglutinating languages

Room G32, Psychology Building, 7 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9JZ