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Measuring empirical bias toward ergativity and accusativity

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2019
Şakiroğulları, Çağrı.
Starting with six word order possibilities for a basic transitive clause, exposed data can bias English children to the point of making a categorial distinction for SVO. However, for an SVO language there are two categorial possibil- ities, an ergative and an accusative one. The acquisition of ergativity and accusativity is a complex phenomenon, since they both have similar phono- logical structure for the baby. We show, using Eve database of CHILDES, that these possibilities can be acquired from exposed data, to the extent that for any transitive clause there are actually eight possibilities available to the child. We do so using the radically lexicalized and probabilistically trainable grammar formalism of Combinatory Categorial Grammar.