Sara Moradlou

Ancien doctorant

Status : Doctorante

Address :

LLF, CNRS – UMR 7110
Université Paris Diderot-Paris 7
Case 7031 – 5, rue Thomas Mann,
75205 Paris cedex 13

E-mail : fnen.ybh@tznvy.pbz

General presentation



Title : Early Child Grammars

Supervision :
  Jonathan Ginzburg

PhD Defense : 2019-09-25

Inscription : à Paris-Diderot

Jury :

  • Eve Clark (Stanford University) 
  • Patrick Healey (Queen Mary, University of London)
  • Barbara Hemforth (CNRS, University of Paris)
  • Raquel Fernández (University of Amsterdam)
  • Aliyah Morgenstern (Sorbonne Nouvelle)
  • Jonathan Ginzburg (University of Paris) (Thesis Director)

Abstract :

This thesis combines corpus work, formal specification, and experimental investigation, to characterize the beginning stages of language learning---the single-word stage. In the first half of this thesis, we develop a taxonomy of one word utterances drawing inspiration from work on adult non-sentential utterances, and previous studies of early child language pragmatics. We provide formal descriptions for the types in our taxonomy that allow representation of semantic content of single-word utterances using the same tools employed in adult grammars. As in adult non-sentential utterances, meaning in children's one-word utterances relies heavily on contextual elements. In the second half of the thesis, we take a closer look at question--answer interactions. We describe the dialogical structure of such parent--child interactions, and provide a theory of how question meanings might be learned interactively. We then compare emergence of answers to wh- and polar questions, using corpus studies, and shared book reading experiments in German and Mandarin. We show that a subclass of wh-questions emerge (as answerable) before polar questions, and discuss factors contributing to this counter-intuitive finding, in light of our earlier heavily context-dependent proposals for how question meanings are acquired.