Ambridge lecture image

Ben Ambridge

Professor of Psychology

Phone: 0151 794 1111
Organisation:

University of Liverpool

A bit about Ben Ambridge

My research investigates children's first language acquisition, mostly using judgement and production methodologies. I am particularly interested in children's overgeneralization errors (e.g., *The joked giggled him; *I falled over ) and errors involving question formation (e.g., *What he doesn't like? ). I also study children's acquisition of morphology, focusing particularly on agreement/case-marking errors in morphologically rich languages, such as Japanese, Polish, Finnish and Lithuanian.

I also have three sidelines:

  1. Conducting studies that investigate alternative discourse/processing-based accounts of so-called "Universal Grammar" phenomena (e.g., subjacency; structure dependence),
  2. Writing review articles/chapters (ideally controversial ones) and a textbook (Child Language Acquisition: Contrasting Theoretical Approaches) and
  3. Writing popular science, including my books, Psy-Q and Are You Smarter Than A Chimpanzee?, which introduce readers to interesting findings from the Psychology literature by means of interactive tests, games, illusions and quizzes.

Please see my website for more information.

My Role in LuCiD

I lead a project testing pragmatic accounts of complex linguistic constraints.

In Phase 1, I led two LuCiD Work Packages. One investigated children’s transition from lexically-specific to abstract syntactic knowledge, focussing specifically on their production of English wh- questions. The second investigated how children learn to use and comprehend nominative and accusative case marking (indicating “who did what to whom”) in two languages with relatively flexible word order: Polish and Finnish. 

LuCiD publications (51) by Ben Ambridge

Ambridge, B., Rowland, C. & Gummery, A. (2019). Teaching the unlearnable: A training study of complex yes/no questions. Language and Cognition.

McCauley, S.M., Bannard, C., Theakston, A., Davis, M., Cameron-Faulkner, T., & Ambridge, B. (2019). Multiword units predict non-inversion errors in children’s wh-questions: “What corpus data can tell us? In A. Goel, C. Seifert, & C. Freksa (Eds.) Proceedings of the 41st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Granlund, S., Kolak, J., Vihman, V., Engelmann, F., Lieven, E., Pine, J., Theakston, A., & Ambridge, B. (2019). Language-general and language-specific phenomena in the acquisition of inflectional noun morphology: A cross-linguistic elicited-production study of Polish, Finnish and Estonian. Journal of Memory and Language, 107, 169-194. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2019.04.004

Engelmann, F., Granlund, S., Kolak, J., Szreder, M., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A., and Lieven, E. (2019). How the input shapes the acquisition of verb morphology: Elicited production and computational modelling in two highly inflected languages. Cognitive Pscyhology, 110, 30-69. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cogpsych.2019.02.001

Bidgood, A., Pine, J. M., Rowland, C. F. & Ambridge, B. (in press). (2020). Syntactic representations are both abstract and semantically constrained: Evidence from children’s and adults’ comprehension and production/priming of the English passive. Cognitive Science.

List, C., Ambridge, B., Lieven, E. v. M., & Pine, J. M. (2018). A comparison study on verb-marking errors from German and English children with Developmental Language Disorder and language-matched controls. Paper presented at the Conference on Developmental Language Disorders, Madrid, Spain.

Engelmann, F., Kolak, J., Vihman, V., Granlund, S., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A., (2018). How the input shapes the acquisition of inflectional morphology: Modelling across three highly inflected languages. 43rd Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, Boston, MA.

Engelmann, F., Kolak, J., Vihman, V., Granlund, S., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A., Lieven, E. (2018). How the input shapes the acquisition of inflectional morphology: Computational modelling across three highly inflected languages. In Proceedings of the 24th AMLaP conference, Architectures and Mechanisms of Language Processing, Berlin, Germany.

Engelmann, F., Kolak, J., Vihman, V., Granlund, S., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A., Lieven, E. (2018). How the input shapes the acquisition of verb and noun morphology: neural network modelling across three highly inflected languages. Paper presented at Learning Language in Humans and in Machines (L2HM) Workshop Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France.

Tatsumi, T., Ambridge, B. & Pine, J. M. (2018). Disentangling effects of input frequency and morphophonological complexity on children's acquisition of verb inflection: An elicited production study of Japanese. Cognitive Science 42, 555-577

Tatsumi, T., Ambridge, B. & Pine, J. M. (2018). Testing an input-based account of children’s errors with inflectional morphology: An elicited production study of Japanese. Journal of Child Language, 45(5), 1144-1173.

Savičiūtė, E., Ambridge, B. & Pine, J. M. (2018). The roles of word-form frequency and phonological neighbourhood density in the acquisition of Lithuanian noun morphology: An elicitation study of familiar and novel Lithuanian nouns. Journal of Child Language, 45(3), 641-672.

Ambridge, B. (2018). Language acquisition in children. Serious Science

Ambridge, B. (2018). Two theories of language acquisition. Serious Science

Ambridge, B., Barak, L., Wonnacott, E., Bannard, C., Sala, G. (2018). Effects of both preemption and entrenchment in the retreat from verb overgeneralization errors: Four reanalyses, an extended replication, and a meta-analytic synthesis. Collabra: Psychology, 4(1), 23.

Sassenhagen, J., Blything, R., Lieven, E., Ambridge, B. (2018). Frequency sensitivity of neural responses to English verb argument structure violations. Collabra: Psychology, 4(1), 38.

Aryawibawa, N., Ambridge, B. (2018). Is syntax semantically constrained? Evidence from a grammaticality judgement study of Indonesian. Cognitive Science, 42(8), 3135-3148.

Kołak, J., Granlund, S., Vihman, V., Engelmann, F., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A. & Lieven, E. (2018). Acquisition of noun inflection in three languages: The role of input frequency and linguistic complexity. Poster presented at the Budapest CEU Conference on Cognitive Development, Budapest, Hungary.

Ambridge, B. (2017). Are you smarter than a chimpanzee? Profile Books Ltd.

List, C., Lieven, E., Ambridge, B. & Pine, J. M., (2017). Testing two different models of verb-marking error in children with Developmental Language Disorder and language-matched controls. (1) Poster presented at the Many Paths to Language (MPaL) workshop, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

List, C., Ambridge, B., Lieven, E. & Pine, J. M. (2017). Testing two different models of verb-marking error in children with Developmental Language Disorder and language-matched controls. Paper presented at the 3rd annual LuCiD conference, Lancaster, UK.

Engelmann, F., Kolak, J., Granlund, S., Szreder, M., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A. & Lieven, E. (2017). The acquisition of Polish and Finnish verb inflection in a connectionist model. Paper presented at the 50th Annual Meeting of Societas Linguistica Europaea (SLE), Zurich, Switzerland.

Engelmann, F., Granlund, S., Kolak, J., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A. & Lieven, E. (2017). Cross-linguistic acquisition of complex verb inflection in a neural network model. Paper presented at the Many Paths to Language (MPaL) workshop, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Kolak, J., Granlund, S., Vihman, V., Engelmann, F., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A. & Lieven, E. (2017). An experimental study on the acquisition of nominal case marking in Estonian, Finnish and Polish. Poster presented at the Many Paths to Language (MPaL) workshop, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Kolak, J., Granlund, S., Vihman, V., Engelmann, F., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A. & Lieven, E. (2017). An experimental study on the acquisition of noun case marking in Estonian, Finnish and Polish. Paper presented at the 50th Annual Meeting of Societas Linguistica Europaea (SLE), Zurich, Switzerland.

Granlund, S., Kolak, J., Szreder, M., Engelmann, F., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A. & Lieven, E. (2017). Predicting errors in children’s production of verb morphology: evidence from person/number marking in Finnish and Polish. Paper presented at the 14th Congress of the International Association for the Study of Child Language (IASCL), Lyon, France.

Granlund, S., Kolak, J., Szreder, M., Engelmann, F., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A. & Lieven, E. (2017). Predicting errors in children’s production of verb morphology: evidence from person/number marking in Finnish and Polish. (1) Paper presented at The 3rd LuCiD Language and Communicative Development Conference, Lancaster, UK.

Granlund, S., Kolak, J., Vihman, V., Engelmann, F., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A. & Lieven, E. (2017). Acquisition of noun case marking in morphologically complex languages. Poster presented at Architectures and Mechanisms of Language Processing (AMLaP), Lancaster, UK.

Blything, R.P., Ambridge, B., & Lieven, E.V.M. (2017). Children's acquisition of the English past-Tense: Evidence for a single-route account from novel verb production data. Cognitive Science, 42 (Suppl 2), 621–639. doi:10.1111/cogs.12581

Engelmann, F., Granlund, S., Kolak, J., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A. & Lieven, E (2017). Cross-linguistic acquisition of complex verb inflection in a connectionist model. Poster presented at Architectures and Mechanisms of Language Processing (AMLaP), Lancaster, UK.

Engelmann, F., Granlund, S., Kolak, J., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A. & Lieven, E. (2017). Cross-linguistic acquisition of complex verb inflection in a neural network model. (1) Paper presented at The 3rd LuCiD Language and Communicative Development Conference, Lancaster, UK.

Engelmann, F., Kolak, J., Granlund, S., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A. & Lieven, E. (2017). The acquisition of complex verb morphology in Finnish and Polish: model and experiment. In Proceedings of the 39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, London, UK.

Ambridge, B. (2017). Syntactic categories in child language acquisition: innate, induced or illusory? In Cohen, H. & Lefebvre, C. (Eds). Handbook of Categorization in Cognitive Science. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Ambridge, B. (2017). Horses for courses: When acceptability judgments are more suitable than structural priming (and vice versa). Commentary on Branigan and Pickering. Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 40. e284.

Ambridge, B. (2017). The retreat from overgeneralisation in child language acquisition. Language and Cognition Seminar, UCL, London, UK.

Engelmann, F., Kolak, J., Granlund, S., Szreder, M., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A. & Lieven, E. (2017). The acquisition of verb inflection in a connectionist model. Paper presented at the 14th Congress of the International Association for the Study of Child Language (IASCL), Lyon, France.

Engelmann, F., Szreder, M., Kolak, J., Granlund, S., Ambridge, B., Pine, J., Theakston, A., & Lieven, E. (2016). Modelling the acquisition of Polish verb inflection. Paper presented at the the 2nd LuCiD Language and Communicative Development Conference, Manchester, UK.

Räsänen, S. H. M., Ambridge, B. & Pine, J. M. (2016). Comparing generativist and constructivist accounts of the acquisition of inflectional morphology: An elicited production study of Finnish. Cognitive Science, 40(7), 1704-1738

Twomey, K. E., Chang, F., & Ambridge, B. (2016). Lexical distributional cues, but not situational cues, are readily used to learn abstract locative verb-structure associations. Cognition, 153, 124–139.

Ambridge, B., Bidgood, A., Pine, J. M., Rowland, C. F. & Freudenthal, D. (2016). Is passive syntax semantically constrained? Evidence from adult grammaticality judgment and comprehension studies. Cognitive Science, 40(6): 1435-59.

Ambridge, B. & Blything, R. (2015). A connectionist model of the retreat from verb argument structure overgeneralization. Journal of Child Language, 43(6), 1245-1276.

Ambridge, B., Bannard, C., Jackson, G. (2015). Is grammar spared in Autism Spectrum Disorder? Data from judgements of verb argument structure overgeneralization errors. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 45(10), 3288-3296

Ambridge, B. (2015). Summer Babies. Interview with BBC 5Live

Ambridge, B., Lieven, E., (2015). A Constructivist Account of Child Language Acquisition In The Handbook of Language Emergence, (eds B. MacWhinney and W. O'Grady), John Wiley & Sons, Inc, Hoboken, NJ, USA. pp478-510

Ambridge, B. (2015). Island constraints and overgeneralization in language acquisition Cognitive Linguistics, 26(2), 361-370

Blything, R., Ambridge, B., Lieven, E. (2015). Children Use Statistics and Semantics in the Retreat from Overgeneralization PLoS ONE, 9, 10

Ambridge, B., Kidd, E., Rowland, C. and Theakston, A. (2015). The ubiquity of frequency effects in first language acquisition. Journal of Child Language, 42, (2), 239-273.

Ambridge, B., Pine, J. M., & Lieven, E. V. M. (2015). Explanatory adequacy is not enough: Response to commentators on 'Child language acquisition: Why universal grammar doesn't help. Language: Perspectives, 91(3): E116-126

Ambridge, B. (2015). Clever mistakes. Talk given 8 November, Manchester Museum.

Ambridge, B., Bidgood, A., Twomey, K. E., Pine, J. M., Rowland, C. F. & Freudenthal, D. (2015). Preemption versus Entrenchment: Towards a construction-general solution to the problem of the retreat from verb argument structure overgeneralization. PLoS ONE, 10 (4): e0123723.

Ambridge, B., Noble, C., Lieven, E. (2014). The semantics of the transitive causative construction: Evidence from a forced-choice pointing study with adults and children. Cognitive Linguistics 25(2) p.293-311.

Search all Publications