The Price Of Linguistic Productivity: How Children Learn To Break The Rules Of Language by Charles YangThe Price Of Linguistic Productivity: How Children Learn To Break The Rules Of Language by Charles Yang

The Price Of Linguistic Productivity: How Children Learn To Break The Rules Of Language

byCharles Yang

Hardcover | October 14, 2016

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An investigation of how children balance rules and exceptions when they learn languages.

All languages have exceptions alongside overarching rules and regularities. How does a young child tease them apart within just a few years of language acquisition? In this book, drawing an economic analogy, Charles Yang argues that just as the price of goods is determined by the balance between supply and demand, the price of linguistic productivity arises from the quantitative considerations of rules and exceptions. The learner postulates a productive rule only if it results in a more efficient organization of language, with the number of exceptions falling below a critical threshold. 

Supported by a wide range of cases with corpus evidence, Yang's Tolerance Principle gives a unified account of many long-standing puzzles in linguistics and psychology, including why children effortlessly acquire rules of language that perplex otherwise capable adults. His focus on computational efficiency provides novel insight on how language interacts with the other components of cognition and how the ability for language might have emerged during the course of human evolution.

Charles Yang teaches Linguistics and Computer Science and directs the Program in Cognitive Science at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of  Knowledge and Learning in Natural Language and  The Infinite Gift, and is currently writing a book on language change.
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Title:The Price Of Linguistic Productivity: How Children Learn To Break The Rules Of LanguageFormat:HardcoverDimensions:280 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.81 inPublished:October 14, 2016Publisher:The MIT PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0262035324

ISBN - 13:9780262035323

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Editorial Reviews

Charles Yang proposes a simple rule relating the number of exceptions that a productive rule of grammar can tolerate to the number of regular cases it generates, and provides a diverse set of case studies, including data concerning the course of child language acquisition. The case-studies suggest that it applies with great generality across languages, and across different distributions of regular and irregular forms. His book will be read by linguists, psychologists, cognitive scientists, and all who are concerned with questions of the fundamental nature of human language.-Mark Steedman, Professor of Cognitive Science, School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh