The learnability of language

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The issue of the learnability of language contrasts the proposals of Chomsky (e.g. 1965), who claimed that the major part of language mastery involves innate domain-specific structures, to more recent nonnativist approaches, from the usage-based theories to Bayesian models, which contend that language acquisition rests on all-purpose domain-general learning processes. This chapter aims at examining the potential contribution to this issue of the literature on implicit learning, defined as the set of studies addressing the question of how participants learn in incidental conditions when they are faced with complex situations governed by arbitrary rules in laboratory settings. Overall, a striking parallelism emerges between usage-based approaches of language acquisition and implicit learning results, opening to a common research agenda.


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