ISBN: 9780262326803 | 360 pp. | August 2015

Productivity and Reuse in Language

A Theory of Linguistic Computation and Storage
Overview

Language allows us to express and comprehend an unbounded number of thoughts. This fundamental and much-celebrated property is made possible by a division of labor between a large inventory of stored items (e.g., affixes, words, idioms) and a computational system that productively combines these stored units on the fly to create a potentially unlimited array of new expressions. A language learner must discover a language’s productive, reusable units and determine which computational processes can give rise to new expressions. But how does the learner differentiate between the reusable, generalizable units (for example, the affix -ness, as in coolness, orderliness, cheapness) and apparent units that do not actually generalize in practice (for example, -th, as in warmth but not coolth)? In this book, Timothy O’Donnell proposes a formal computational model, Fragment Grammars, to answer these questions. This model treats productivity and reuse as the target of inference in a probabilistic framework, asking how an optimal agent can make use of the distribution of forms in the linguistic input to learn the distribution of productive word-formation processes and reusable units in a given language.

Table of Contents

  1. Preface
  2. Acknowledgments
  3. 1. Introduction

    Timothy J. O'Donnell

  4. 2. The Framework

    Timothy J. O'Donnell and Noah D. Goodman

  5. 3. Formalization of the Models and Inference

    Timothy J. O'Donnell and Noah D. Goodman

  6. 4. The English Past Tense: Abstraction and Competition

    Timothy J. O'Donnell

  7. 5. The English Past Tense: Simulations

    Timothy J. O'Donnell

  8. 6. English Derivational Morphology: Productivity, Processing, and Ordering

    Timothy J. O'Donnell

  9. 7. English Derivational Morphology: Simulations

    Timothy J. O'Donnell

  10. 8. Conclusion

    Timothy J. O'Donnell

  11. A: Past-Tense Inflectional Classes
  12. B: Derivational Suffixes
  13. Bibliography
  14. Index