Learning Morphological Constructions

  • Vsevolod Kapatsinski
Part of the Studies in Morphology book series (SUMO, volume 4)


The great variability of morphological structure across languages makes it uncontroversial that morphology is learned. Yet, morphology presents formidable learning challenges, on par with those of syntax. This article takes a constructionist perspective in assuming that morphological constructions are a major outcome of the learning process. However, the existence of morphological paradigms in many languages suggests that they are often not the only outcome. The article reviews domain-general approaches to achieving this outcome. The primary focus is on mechanisms proposed within the associative/connectionist tradition, which are compared with Bayesian approaches. The issues discussed include the role of prediction and prediction error in learning, generative vs. discriminative learning models, directionality of associations, the roles of (unexpectedly) present vs. absent stimuli, general-to-specific vs. specific-to-general learning, and the roles of type and token frequency. In the process, the notion of a construction itself is shown to be more complicated that it first appears.


Learning Morphology Connectionism Bayes Type frequency Token frequency Contingency learning Schema Linguistic constructions Morphological paradigms Productivity 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA

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