October 31, 2008

Morphological cues vs. number of nominals in learning verb types in Turkish: Syntactic bootstrapping mechanism revisited

Deniz Yuret, A. Engin Ural, Nihan Ketrez, Dilara Koçbaş and Aylin C. Küntay. In The Boston University Conference on Language Development (BUCLD) (Long abstract, poster, PDF)

Abstract: The syntactic bootstrapping mechanism of verb classification was evaluated against child-directed speech in Turkish, a language with rich morphology, nominal ellipsis and free word order. Machine-learning algorithms were run on transcribed caregiver speech (12,276 and 20,687 utterances) directed to two Turkish learners (one hour every two weeks between 0,9 to 1;10) of different socioeconomic backgrounds. The corpora contained 12,276 and 20,687 child-directed utterances. Study 1 found that the number of nominals in child-directed utterances plays some role in classifying transitive and intransitive verbs. Study 2 found that accusative morphology on the noun is a stronger cue in clustering verb types. Study 3 found that verbal morphology is useful in distinguishing between different subtypes of intransitive verbs. These results suggest that syntactic bootstrapping mechanisms should be extended to include morphological cues to verb learning in morphologically rich languages.

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