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Computational Parallels Across Language Modules

Graf, Thomas

Abstract Linguists study a variety of aspects of language, including phonology, morphology, and syntax. It is commonly believed that those are distinct modules of language, governed by very different principles and consequently studied with very different tools. While there have been attempts at unification (e.g. Government Phonology, Distributed Morphology, and OT-syntax), the received view is that these modules are too far removed from each other to allow for direct transfer of knowledge.

In this talk, I argue against this position. Recent results from computational linguistics reveal a surprising amount of commonalities between phonology, morphology, and syntax. In particular, the dependencies found in all three are close to the bottom of the so-called subregular hiearchy. This results in an abstract but unified view of language where results from one domain can be extended to another in a precise manner. This has theoretical and empirical implications for cognition and typology alike, and it even furnishes new models of language acquisition.

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@Misc{Graf16Yaletalk,
  author = {Graf, Thomas},
  title = {Computational Parallels Across Language Modules},
  year = {2016},
  note = {Invited talk, September 12, Department of Linguistics, Yale University, New Haven, CT}
}

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