Date of Original Version




Abstract or Description

In a recent issue of this Journal, Pinker and Prince (1988) and Lachter and Bever (1988) presented detailed critiques of Rumelhart and McClelland's (1986) connectionist model of the child's learning of the phonological form of the English past tense. In order to address these criticisms, a new connectionist model was constructed using the back-propagation algorithm, a larger input corpus, a fuller paradigm, and a new phonological representation. This new implementation successfully addressed the criticisms of the phonological representation used by Rumelhart and McClelland. It did a much better job of learning the past tense using a fuller input set with realistic frequencies of occurrence. Ancillary simulations using the same network were able to deal with the homonymy problem and the generation of forms like “ated” from “ate.” The one feature not provided by the new model was a way of modeling early correct production of irregular forms. The success of the new model can be used to help clarify the extent to which the published critiques apply to a particular connectionist implementation as opposed to fundamental principles underlying the broader connectionist conceptualization.




Cognition Volume 40, Issues 1-2, August 1991, Pages 121-157