Quarterly (winter, spring, summer, fall)
224 pp. per issue
6 3/4 x 9 1/4
2014 Impact factor:

Linguistic Inquiry

Summer 2006, Vol. 37, No. 3, Pages 441-456
(doi: 10.1162/ling.2006.37.3.441)
© 2006 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
There Began to Be a Learnability Puzzle
Article PDF (107.76 KB)

One of the fundamental puzzles language learners must solve is the mapping of a string of words onto a particular (correct) syntactic structure. In this article, I examine the problem of how learners should resolve the ambiguity presented by a string that could have either a raising or a control structure. I provide both logical and empirical arguments against the view that children should be biased to assume that such a string has a control structure. Instead, I propose two families of cues, based on a psycholinguistic experiment with adults, which can be used in a probabilistic manner to parse an ambiguous string and to categorize raising and control verbs.