Morphology is the locus of variation in human languages. I am interested in how children learn to inflect words in the target language. My thesis work explores this question using Icelandic noun inflection as a test case. Icelandic nouns inflect for gender, case and number resulting in nested patterns that are traditionally called inflection classes. In spite of sparse data in the input, children learn inflectional morphology early on the basis of small vocabularies. Based on these limited resources, how do children learn to predict inflectional patterns?
Why can Icelandic children only pluralize nouns that they can assign gender to? This poster offers and explanation.
There is general agreement that languages have both productive and unproductive patterns. However, the nature of productivity has been contested: What conditions trigger the productivity of a linguistic pattern? Is productivity categorical or gradient? In my research, I have used quantative models to predict children's learning trajectories of inflectional morphology. More generally, I am interested in what implications productivity considerations have for our understanding of language.
The relation between form and meaning
The distribution of many linguistic categories has been argued to be constrained by meaning like, for example, grammatical gender and mood. I am interested in how form is constrained by meaning and vice versa. Moreover, I am interested in how children acquire such patterns.