The syntactic structure of a sentence is determined by its functional or closed-class items. In this line of work, we are studying how children analyze closed-class items, asking (i) whether learners’ computations reflect the special role of these items in sentence structure and (ii) how these analyses shape learners’ grammatical representations.

(Getz & Newport, 2018 GALANA talk, 2018 BUCLD poster, and in prep)

Learning V2 word order patterns has been argued to require innate linguistic representations. However, in order to represent patterns in an innate tree, a child must first learn the patterns, raising the possibility that these patterns are—at least initially—all the child knows. I show that adults can learn V2 patterns without knowing the underlying rules as long as there is V2 morphology. Furthermore, adults who know the patterns, but not the rules, make the same types of word-order errors as children acquiring real V2 languages. I argue that adults have access to a robust pattern-learning mechanism with the right properties to be valuable in natural language acquisition.

(Getz, 2018, proceedings of GURT: Variable properties: Their nature and acquisition; Getz, under review)

Language acquisition researchers have long worried about how children can acquire language despite the Poverty of the Stimulus. In this paper, I argue that whether the input is impoverished depends on a specific view of the learning problem. There may not be enough input for a specific learning approach to work, but one always has to consider the possibility that there exists another approach for which input actually is adequate.

(Getz, 2018, Language Acquisition)

This work focuses on neural entrainment to higher-level grammatical structure (Ding et al., Nature Neuroscience, 2016).  Here we asked how this brain response emerges as learners acquire representations of such structure in a miniature language.

(Getz, Ding, Newport, & Poeppel, 2018, Cognition)

Before grad school, I studied aphasia and alexia at the Center for Aphasia Research and Rehabilitation. One project focused on phonological alexia, difficulty reading words with low semantic content (e.g., function words and nonwords: these patients can read hat but not that). In another project, we studied people with Primary Progressive Aphasia, a neurodegenerative disease.

(Getz, Snider, Brennan & Friedman, 2016, Neuropsychological Rehabilitation; Meyer, Getz, Snider, Sullivan, Long, Turner, & Friedman, 2016, Aphasiology)
P.S. That’s not a patient’s brain — that’s mine!

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