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Linguistic Inquiry

Winter 1999, Vol. 30, No. 1, Pages 27-67
(doi: 10.1162/002438999553959)
© 1999 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Charting the Learning Path: Cues to Parameter Setting
Article PDF (250.76 KB)

This article argues for an approach to grammar acquisition that builds on the cue-based parametric model of Dresher and Kaye (1990). On this view, acquisition proceeds by means of an ordered path, in which cues to parameters become progressively more abstract and grammar-internal. A learner does not attempt to match target forms (contra Gibson and Wexler 1994), but uses them as evidence for parameter setting. Cues are local, and there is no global fitness metric (contra Clark and Roberts 1993). Acquisition of representations and acquisition of grammar proceed together and cannot be decoupled in the manner of Tesar and Smolensky (1998).