Emily Atkinson, Postdoctoral Research Fellow for U-M's Weinberg Institute for Cognitive Science, kicked off the Linguistics Department colloquium series on Friday, October 4. She presented “Learning to process sentences: Insights from filler-gap dependencies and syntactic priming" at 4 pm in at the Ross School of Business (R1240).
Read the abstract below.
Learning to process sentences: Insights from filler-gap dependencies and syntactic priming
The development of the sentence processing mechanisms has largely been ignored because a major assumption of many in the field is that basic sentence processing mechanisms are innate. Seminal work on children’s processing of garden path sentences supported this claim by demonstrating that children – like adults – incrementally interpret sentences, but struggle with reanalysis. However, more recent research has begun to provide counter evidence to this claim by examining new structures. If these mechanisms are not innate, how do children learn to process sentences like adults? I will address these issues by providing evidence that these long held beliefs about children’s sentence processing do not hold in all cases, using the processing of filler-gap dependencies as the main example, and to discuss the possibility that syntactic priming may serve as a possible learning mechanism for adult-like processing behaviors.