Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Language Universals$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Morten H. Christiansen, Christopher Collins, and Shimon Edelman

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195305432

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195305432.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 02 July 2020

Computational Models of Language Universals: Expressiveness, Learnability, and Consequences

Computational Models of Language Universals: Expressiveness, Learnability, and Consequences

(p.200) 10 Computational Models of Language Universals: Expressiveness, Learnability, and Consequences
Language Universals

Edward P. Stabler

Oxford University Press

This chapter reports on research showing that it may be a universal structural property of human languages that they fall into a class of languages defined by mildly context-sensitive grammars. It also investigates the issue of whether there are properties of language that are needed to guarantee that it is learnable. It suggests that languages are learnable if they have a finite Vapnik-Chervonenkis (VC) dimension (where the VC dimension provides a combinatorial measure of complexity for a set of languages). Informally, a finite VC dimension requires that there be restrictions on the set of languages to be learned such that they do not differ from one another in arbitrary ways. These restrictions can be construed as universals that are required for language to be learnable (given formal language learnability theory). The chapter concludes by pointing out that formalizations of the semantic contribution (e.g., compositionality) to language learning might yield further insight into language universals.

Keywords:   linguistic universals, language complexity, learnable syntactic patterns, Vapnik-Chervonenkis dimension, formal language learning theory, compositionality

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .