MIT EECS Undergraduate Research and Innovation Scholar
How the Tolerance Principle Plays into Language Acquisition
- Natural Language Processing & Speech
Robert C. Berwick
If we are to understand the full scope of language acquisition, we must understand how linguistic rules and exceptions are acquired. Professor Charles Yang formulates a Tolerance Principle to describe the point at which children learn a rule to apply to all items presented instead of memorizing each one by one as an exception: The number of exceptions a child can tolerate without relinquishing the grammar rule is: “n/log(n),” where “n” is the number of words heard at that point (Yang 2016). This project will further study the Tolerance Principle from an empirical and conceptual point of view and test its versatility and extensions across a wider range of child acquisition construction types, such as the English past-tense formation and alternation patterns in verbs (Levin 1993).
My past UROP experiences excited me about research, and SuperUROP allows me to delve deeply into an area to produce publication-worthy research. I am especially looking forward to working in computational linguistics and seeing whether this is an area where I would like to do further research.