Paper

The Learnability of the Wh-Island Constraint in Dutch by a Long Short-Term Memory Network

Authors
  • Michelle Suijkerbuijk (Radboud University Nijmegen)
  • Peter de Swart (Radboud University Nijmegen)
  • Stefan L Frank (Radboud University Nijmegen)

Abstract

The current study investigates whether a Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) network can learn the wh-island constraint in Dutch in a way comparable to human native speakers. After establishing with an acceptability judgement task that native speakers demonstrate a clear sensitivity to wh-island violations, the LSTM network was tested on the same sentences. Contrary to the results of the native speakers, the network was not able to recognize wh-islands and to block gap expectancies within them. This suggests that input and the network’s inductive biases alone might not be enough to learn about syntactic island constraints, and that built-in language knowledge or abilities might be necessary.

Keywords: island constraints, Dutch, Long-Short Term Memory network, syntax, acceptability judgement task

How to Cite:

Suijkerbuijk, M., de Swart, P. & Frank, S. L., (2023) “The Learnability of the Wh-Island Constraint in Dutch by a Long Short-Term Memory Network”, Society for Computation in Linguistics 6(1), 321-331. doi: https://doi.org/10.7275/d5qf-2h13

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Published on
01 Jun 2023