[Corpora-List] CFP for special issue on Computational Models of First Language Acquisition

Alexander Clark alexsclark at googlemail.com
Tue Jun 16 09:10:44 CEST 2009

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Call for Papers

Computational Models of First Language Acquisition. Special Issue of Research on Language and Computation


Alexander Clark, Department of Computer Science, Royal Holloway, University of London William Gregory Sakas, Hunter College and The Graduate Center, City University of New York

The journal Research on Language and Computation invites submission of papers for a special issue on Computational Models of Language Acquisition.


Language acquisition has for a long time stood as one of the most fundamental, beguiling, and surprisingly open questions of modern science.

Recent advances in natural language processing, statistical parsing and machine learning, together with the availability of large corpora of child directed speech and other corpora, make a wide range of computationally-oriented approaches to the study of this problem available. In this special issue, we will provide a forum for the full range of current approaches to this important field.

Psychocomputational models of language acquisition are of particular interest in light of recent results in developmental psychology that suggest that very young infants are adept at detecting statistical patterns in an audible input stream. Though, how children might plausibly apply statistical 'machinery' to the task of grammar acquisition, with or without an innate language component, remains an open and important question. One effective line of investigation is to computationally model the acquisition process, through simulation, mathematically, the statistical analysis of corpora, etc., and determine interrelationships between a model and linguistic or psycholinguistic theory, and/or correlations between a model's performance and data from linguistic environments that children are exposed to.


We aim to publish papers that describe state of the art techniques in computational models of language acquisition. These should be computationally explicit but not necessarily implemented and these could be evaluated empirically, theoretically or on the basis of a detailed case study.

This special issue should provide an interdisciplinary forum where researchers in theoretical linguistics, psycholinguistics, natural language processing, grammatical inference, machine learning and cognitive science can present research on the computational modelling of first language acquisition.

We welcome papers from any of the current models of linguistic theorising: standard and enriched context free models, Principles and Parameters models, Optimiality theory and reseachers working within the Minimalist Program, and other approaches.

Topics include but are not limited to;

* Models that address the acquisition of word-order;

* Models that combine parsing and learning;

* Formal learning-theoretic and grammar induction models that use psychologically plausible models of the information available to the learner;

* Comparative surveys that critique previously reported studies;

* Models that address learning bias in terms of innate linguistic knowledge versus statistical regularity in the input;

* Models that employ language modeling techniques from corpus linguistics;

* Models that employ techniques from machine learning;

* Models of language change and its effect on language acquisition or vice versa;

* Models that employ statistical/probabilistic grammars;

* Computational models that can be used to evaluate existing linguistic or developmental theories (e.g., principles & parameters, optimality theory, construction grammar, etc.)

* Empirical models that make use of child-directed corpora such as CHILDES, or indeed adult corpora as contrasted with child-directed corpora.


Submissions should be made online using Springer's Editorial Manager System, available at http://www.editorialmanager.com/rolc/.

Length: 12,000 words (approximately 30 pages) for a standard submission

4,000 words (approximately 10 pages) for a brief report

Important dates

Submission of full papers: October 30, 2009 Notifications of decision: January 31, 2010 Revised versions due: April 1, 2010 Second review: June 1 2010 Final versions: August 1 2010 Publication: Late 2010.

Further information:

Please contact Alexander Clark (alexc at cs.rhul.ac.uk) for any further questions.

-- Alex Clark

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