12,000

We have over 12,000 students, from over 100 countries, within one of the safest campuses in the UK

93%

93% of Lancaster students go into work or further study within six months of graduating

Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > Relationships Between Language Structure and La...
View graph of relations

« Back

Relationships Between Language Structure and Language Learning: The Suffixing Preference and Grammatical Categorization

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2009
JournalCognitive Science
Journal number7
Volume33
Number of pages13
Pages1317-1329
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

It is a reasonable assumption that universal properties of natural languages are not accidental. They occur either because they are underwritten by genetic code, because they assist in language processing or language learning, or due to some combination of the two. In this paper we investigate one such language universal: the suffixing preference across the world's languages, whereby inflections tend to be added to the end of words. A corpus analysis of child-directed speech in English found that suffixes were more accurate at cuing the grammatical category of the root word than were prefixes. An artificial language experiment found that there was a learning advantage for suffixes over prefixes in terms of grammatical categorization within an artificial language. The results are consistent with an account of language universals that originate in general purpose learning mechanisms.