Ben Ambridge

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According to Crain and Nakayama (1987), when forming complex yes/no questions, children do not make errors such as Is the boy who smoking is crazy? because they have innate knowledge of structure dependence and so will not move the auxiliary from the relative clause. However, simple recurrent networks are also able to avoid such errors, on the basis of(More)
A paradox at the heart of language acquisition research is that, to achieve adult-like competence, children must acquire the ability to generalize verbs into non-attested structures, while avoiding utterances that are deemed ungrammatical by native speakers. For example, children must learn that, to denote the reversal of an action, un- can be added to many(More)
Previous studies have shown that children retreat from argument-structure overgeneralization errors (e.g., *Don't giggle me) by inferring that frequently encountered verbs are unlikely to be grammatical in unattested constructions, and by making use of syntax-semantics correspondences (e.g., verbs denoting internally caused actions such as giggling cannot(More)
Whilst some locative verbs alternate between the ground- and figure-locative constructions (e.g. Lisa sprayed the flowers with water/Lisa sprayed water onto the flowers), others are restricted to one construction or the other (e.g. *Lisa filled water into the cup/*Lisa poured the cup with water). The present study investigated two proposals for how learners(More)
Is language governed by formal rules or by analogy to stored exemplars? The acquisition of the English past tense has long played a central role in this debate. In the present study, children rated the acceptability of a regular and an irregular past-tense form of each of 40 novel verbs (e.g., fleeped, flept) using a 5-point scale. The novel verbs were(More)
This review article presents evidence for the claim that frequency effects are pervasive in children's first language acquisition, and hence constitute a phenomenon that any successful account must explain. The article is organized around four key domains of research: children's acquisition of single words, inflectional morphology, simple syntactic(More)
How do children learn to restrict their productivity and avoid ungrammatical utterances? The present study addresses this question by examining why some verbs are used with un- prefixation (e.g., unwrap) and others are not (e.g., *unsqueeze). Experiment 1 used a priming methodology to examine children's (3-4; 5-6) grammatical restrictions on verbal un-(More)
A central question in language acquisition is how children build linguistic representations that allow them to generalize verbs from one construction to another (e.g., The boy gave a present to the girl → The boy gave the girl a present), whilst appropriately constraining those generalizations to avoid non-adultlike errors (e.g., I said no to her → *I said(More)
To explain the phenomenon that certain English verbs resist passivization (e.g., *£5 was cost by the book), Pinker (1989) proposed a semantic constraint on the passive in the adult grammar: The greater the extent to which a verb denotes an action where a patient is affected or acted upon, the greater the extent to which it is compatible with the passive.(More)
Many generativist accounts (e.g., Wexler, 1998) argue for very early knowledge of inflection on the basis of very low rates of person/number marking errors in young children's speech. However, studies of Spanish (Aguado-Orea & Pine, 2015) and Brazilian Portuguese (Rubino & Pine, 1998) have revealed that these low overall error rates actually hide important(More)