Author Topic: Another question  (Read 16356 times)

Offline jkpate

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Re: Another question
« Reply #30 on: December 13, 2014, 02:35:05 AM »
I have a few comments in response to your question. First, it's not necessarily about memory. It could also be about learning (as an infant). It should be easier to learn a rule if you have evidence for the rule from thousands of verb types, even if each individual verb type is rare. Second, even if it is about memory, that doesn't mean that people are not capable of memorizing each form. All we need is that humans prefer not to memorize each form.

I'm not sure what a "natural tendency" is, but I think there are lots of forces that could push verbs to be irregular. For example, some verbs are borrowed from other languages. Also, child acquisition of verb learning exhibits a U-shaped learning curve. This is presumably because, early in the acquisition process, a child will have more reliable evidence for a particular verb than for rules that abstract over verbs. The child can learn individual verbs in isolation and get the irregular verbs right initially, learn a rule that overgeneralizes later, getting the irregular verbs wrong, and then learn the exceptions. (statistical models can reproduce this curve, but with extensive debate that is summarized in this paper)
All models are wrong, but some are useful - George E P Box