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Acquiring Languages with Movement

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A simple kind of “minimalist” transformational grammar is defined to study the problem of learning a language in which pronounced constituents may have moved arbitrarily far from their original sites. In these grammars, all linguistic variation is lexical: constituent order is determined by lexical functional elements, and structure building operations are universal. Given universal constraints on the category system, these grammars can be identified in the limit from a positive text of derived structures, where these structures contain no features except the pronounced, phonetic elements. Identification from pronounced strings alone is shown to be impossible. In the light of this last negative result and related problems, rather than assuming that the learner somehow determines constituent structure from prosodic and semantic cues, an alternative approach to the learning problem is proposed.
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Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: Department of Linguistics, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90024

Publication date: April 1, 1998

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