When: 12 noon
For a long time, children were thought to acquire first the sounds of their native language (phonology), then its words (lexicon), then the way in which words are organized into sentences (syntax). Accordingly, researchers have looked for ways in which children may acquire the sound system of their language before they know words, words before they know syntax, and so on. However, some learning problems are intractable unless one postulates access to partial information from other domains. I will present experimental and computational work on the acquisition of the lexicon, focusing on how children could gather and use syntactic information to facilitate their learning of words. In particular, I will show how phrasal prosody (rhythm and intonation) and function words (articles, auxiliaries, etc), may allow infants to build a preliminary syntactic structure, or syntactic skeleton, which may be sufficient to categorize unknown content words and infer something about their meaning.