Foundations Of Cognitive Science

Text Learning

Text learning is a form of learning proposed by Gold (1967; see also Pinker, 1979; Wexler & Culicover, 1980) in which a language learner is only presented grammatical examples of a language that is being learned (positive information).  This is to be contrasted with informant learning, in which grammatical and non-grammatical examples are both presented (positive and negative information).  Text learning was shown by Gold to be much less effective than informant learning.  However, understanding text learning is crucial to cognitive science because evidence shows that when human children learn their first language, they do so as text learners, not as informant learners. This leads to what has become to be known as Gold's paradox.


  1. Gold, E. M. (1967). Language identification in the limit. Information and Control, 10, 447-474.
  2. Pinker, S. (1979). Formal models of language learning. Cognition, 7, 217-283.
  3. Wexler, K., & Culicover, P. W. (1980). Formal principles of language acquisition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press

(Added October 2009)