When socioeconomic status differences don’t affect input quality: Learning complex syntactic knowledge
Alandi Bates, Lisa Pearl
August 2022

**Updated title**: A new way to identify if variation in children’s input could be developmentally meaningful: Using computational cognitive modeling to assess input across socio-economic status for syntactic islands ***** **Updated author order: Lisa Pearl & Alandi Bates** While there are always differences in children’s input, it is unclear how often these differences impact language development – that is, are *developmentally meaningful* – and why they do (or do not) do so. We describe a new approach using computational cognitive modeling that links children’s input to predicted language development outcomes, and can identify if input differences are potentially developmentally meaningful. We use this approach to investigate if there is developmentally-meaningful input variation across socio-economic status (SES) with respect to the complex syntactic knowledge called syntactic islands. We focus on four island types with available data about the target linguistic behavior. Despite several measurable input differences for syntactic island input across SES, our model predicts this variation not to be developmentally meaningful: it predicts no differences in the syntactic island knowledge that can be learned from that input. We discuss implications for language development variability across SES.
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Reference: lingbuzz/004687
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keywords: socioeconomic status, linguistic development, child-directed speech, syntactic islands constraints, computational cognitive modeling, quantitative approaches, input quantity, input quality, input variation, syntax
previous versions: v4 [February 2022]
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