Olivier Rüst joined the URPP Language and Space in December 2019.
Language Acquisition in Interaction
How can children extract the information they need to acquire language from input that is seemingly chaotic? To become productive language users, children need to handle the massive task of recognizing words and classifying them into more general categories like nouns and verbs. This is, however, just the beginning. They also need to recognize grammatical relations and broader syntactic constructions, such as the simple transitive, in order to produce even a simple clause like "I like ice-cream".
The only way they can achieve this task, is to extract information from the surrounding speech. The mechanisms that children rely on when extracting information from the input thus need to be explained by any comprehensive theory of language acquisition. In order to investigate this, I take a twofold approach. First, I identify patterns that code grammatical information in the input via statistical analysis of naturally occurring data. Second, I evaluate how these patterns relate to child behaviour to explore whether children indeed access such information, and if so, how these relationships develop over time.
Supervisors: Sabine Stoll and Marco Baroni