Ambridge lecture image

Ben Ambridge

Professor of Psychology

Phone: 0151 794 1111

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 Optional Infinitive errors in English (e.g., *He play ) and agreement/case-marking errors in morphologically rich languages, specifically 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 book, Psy-Q which introduces 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 am the lead researcher on two LuCiD Work Packages. One investigates children’s transition from lexically-specific to abstract syntactic knowledge, focussing specifically on their production of English wh- questions. The second investigates 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. Again, the focus is on understanding the transition from lexically-specific knowledge (e.g., of individual case-marked pronouns) to the fully-abstract adult system. I am also co-investigator on a related project looking at the acquisition of verb morphology in these two languages. 

LuCiD publications (11) by Ben Ambridge

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

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., 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., 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.

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