Evidence for grammatical multi-modularity from a corpus of non-native essays

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This paper evaluates the claim that semantic and formal elements of language can be understood as interdependent modules, based on an analysis of essays written for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Two different writing tasks from the TOEFL test, which place different cognitive constraints on the process of linguistic production, are compared on the basis of automatically-calculated features, and found to elicit responses with systematic linguistic differences. An argument is developed that these empirical findings support the modeling of grammar as a multi-modular system, in which constraints placed on one linguistic module can determine how fully constraints on other modules can be satisfied.


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