Does English Need its Pronouns? Simulating the Effect of Pro-drop on SVO Languages

Ezra Van Everbroeck, Maria Polinsky, and Garrison W. Cottrell

We present the results from a large set of connectionist simulations exploring the effect of subject omission (pro-drop) on languages with an SVO word order. We show that pro-drop only affects the learnability of the languages if there are no cues available to tell nouns and verbs apart. We also argue that neither creoles nor Mandarin Chinese instantiate the language type which was unlearnable in the simulations.

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