Linguistics and English Language

Meaning and grammar seminar

Speaker: Shira Tal (University of Edinburgh)

Title: The role of redundancy in language learning

Abstract: Linguistic redundancy – using more linguistic material than needed – is attested across languages, even though it seems to add complexity to the language system and to go against principles of efficient communication. I offer a learnability-based perspective on the presence of such redundancy in language. In particular, I make two predictions: (a) redundancy can be beneficial for learning, and (b) speakers increase the use of redundant cues when conversing with learners. In this talk, I will present a series of studies which aim to test these predictions by looking at both child and adult learners, across different levels of linguistic analyses (morpho-syntax, discourse, full language). The results support both predictions. In line with the first prediction, redundancy can be beneficial for child learners, even when it adds complexity to the language. In line with the second prediction, speech directed to learners – child and adult learners alike – is more redundant compared to speech directed to proficient speakers. Together, these results provide initial support for the idea that learning constraints help maintain redundancy in languages.


Seminars are organised by the meaning and grammar research group.

Meaning and grammar research group

If you'd like more information on dates and venues this semester, or if you'd like to present, please email Vilde Reksnes, or subscribe to our mailing list.

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Nov 16 2021 -

Meaning and grammar seminar

2021-11-16: The role of redundancy in language learning

Room 7.01, Dugald Stewart Building, 3 Charles Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AD