Towards a Statistical Model of Grammaticality

Abstract

The question of whether it is possible to characterise grammatical knowledge in probabilistic terms is central to determining the relationship of linguistic representation to other cognitive domains. We present a statistical model of grammaticality which maps the probabilities of a statistical model for sentences in parts of the British National Corpus (BNC) into grammaticality scores, using various functions of the parameters of the model. We test this approach with a classifier on test sets containing different levels of syntactic infelicity. With appropriate tuning, the classifiers achieve encouraging levels of accuracy. These experiments suggest that it may be possible to characterise grammaticality judgements in probabilistic terms using an enriched language model.


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