Croker, S., Pine, J., & Gobet, F. (2000).
Modelling optional infinitive phenomena: A computational account of tense optionality in children's speech. Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Cognitive Modelling. Veenendaal, The Netherlands: Universal Press.
The Optional Infinitive hypothesis proposed by Wexler (1994) is a theory of children's early grammatical development that can be used to explain a variety of phenomena in children's early multi-word speech. However, Wexler's theory attributes a great deal of abstract knowledge to the child on the basis of rather weak empirical evidence. In this paper we present a computational model of early grammatical development which simulates optional infinitive phenomena as a function of the interaction between a performance-limited distributional analyser and the statistical properties of the input. Our findings undermine the claim that optional infinitive phenomena require an abstract grammatical analysis.