The company language keeps: How distributional cues influence statistical learning for language

Monday 8 April 2024, 10:30 am
PhD student
K.S. Stärk MSc.
prof. dr. C. Rowland, prof. dr. E. Kidd
dr. R.L.A. Frost

How do infants learn language? It may look easy because they seem to learn their mother tongue without difficulties, but there are challenges. For instance, the language input infants receive does not contain any obvious cues to indicate word boundaries, but children still manage to build a broad vocabulary before they start school. In this thesis, I investigated three important questions about human language development: (1) Which linguistic cues can infants use to learn their first words? (2) Do we use patterns from our mother tongue, which we acquired as infants, to learn another language as we get older? and (3) Do we exploit various linguistic cues to help us learn and understand new languages?

Katja Stärk (1992) obtained her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in General Linguistics from the University of Leipzig, Germany, in 2013 and 2016, respectively. During this time, Katja completed several internships at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences and worked as a teaching assistant in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Leipzig. She completed an Erasmus traineeship in the Department of Psychosocial Science at the University of Bergen, Norway, before joining the Language Development Department at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, as one of the department’s first doctoral researchers in 2017.