Title: Multiword phrase as building blocks for language: implications for models of language representation
Abstract: The ability to combine words and phrases to express an unbounded number of different thoughts is a hallmark of human language. Traditionally, individual words are seen as the core building blocks of linguistic productivity – the basic units of language learning and use. Multiword combinations, in contrast, are only perceived as units in special cases like idioms. In this talk, I provide empirical evidence that challenges the classical ‘word-only’ view, and demonstrates a comprehensive role for multiword sequences in language learning and use. I will present psycholinguistic and developmental findings on the processing and use of multiword units to challenge a strict separation between lexicon and grammar; highlight the role of larger chunks as building blocks in first language learning; and suggest that learning from them may enhance learning outcomes.