Language learners' unacceptability judgments improve with repeated exposure to acceptable sentences

Karina Tachihara, Adele E. Goldberg

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract

Recent work has raised a question about whether adult language learners take advantage of indirect negative evidence (here, statistical preemption) while learning a new language. Statistical preemption predicts that exposure to conventional formulations results in better recognition that unconventional formulations are unacceptable. In a preregistered study, 61 undergraduates enrolled in Spanish classes were exposed to instances of conventional constructions in Spanish for 3 days to determine whether the exposure would bring their responses to unconventional formulations into closer alignment with those of native Spanish speakers. Judgment data confirms an effect of statistical preemption: students showed an increased recognition of the fact that unconventional (unwitnessed) formulations were unacceptable. These results are consistent with the idea that learning a new language is, in large part, learning which formulations to avoid: learning what not to say.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages876-881
Number of pages6
StatePublished - 2022
Event44th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Cognitive Diversity, CogSci 2022 - Toronto, Canada
Duration: Jul 27 2022Jul 30 2022

Conference

Conference44th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Cognitive Diversity, CogSci 2022
Country/TerritoryCanada
CityToronto
Period7/27/227/30/22

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Keywords

  • competition
  • learning
  • second language

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