Charles Yang

Department of Linguistics, Computer Science, and Psychology
Integrated Language Science and Technology
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Email: charles-dot-yang❂ling_dot_upenn-dot-edu
Email for cogsci advising:
Office: 3401 Walnut 315C
Phone: 215-898-7849


I studied computer science at the MIT AI Lab. After a few years at Yale, I now teach linguistics, computer science, and psychology while directing the Program in Cognitive Science at the University of Pennsylvania. I work on language acquisition, variation, and change, natural language processing (NLP), and am boardly interested in the study of the mind including, more recently, numerical and conceptual development in children. I have written several books: The Price of Linguistic Productivity: How Children Learn to Break the Rules of Language (MIT Press 2016) won the Leonard Bloomfield Award from the Linguistic Society of America. I have received fellowships from the National Science Foundation (1995) and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2018).

Penn has a long and distinguished history of interdisciplinary linguistic research and can legitimately lay claims to the birthplace of modern theoretical, quantitative, psychological, and computational
studies of language. We have launched a new initiative on Integrated Language Science and Technology, which I am co-directing with John TrueswellPost-doc positions available!

Cognitive Science Majors

The contact email address for Cognitive Science matters is Please use this address as the emails sent to other addresses including my personal account may result in delay. Office hours for Spring 2020: Wednesday 12-2pm, 3401 Walnut 315C. Students interested in pursuing research (independent study or honor thesis) in cognitive science may find these guidelines useful.

Teaching (Fall 2020)

LING270 Language Acquisition

LING570 Developmental Psycholinguistics


Language acquisition: A slim guide (and a simple theory). (Oxford, forthcoming)

2017 (Eds. with Norbert Hornstein, Howard Lasnik, and Pritty Patel-Grosz) Syntactic Structures 60 Years On: The Impact of Chomsky's revolution in linguistics. Mouton

2009. (Ed.) Critical concepts in language acquisition. Routledge.


A user's guide to the Tolerance Principle.

        Generalization and probability matching. Matching is one of the most widely documented probabilistic behavior but the animal must be able to identify the discrete choices first before the actual matching can take place. A note on how this is done in language with potential applications to other domains (written in 2015).
        The threshold of productivity and the “irregularization” of verbs in Early Modern English. (With Don Ringe)

        Special issue of Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism. My target article "A formalist perspective on language acquisition", commentaries by Theresa Biberauer, Cécile De Cat, Laura Domínguez and Jorge González Alonso, Christine Dimroth, Adele E. Goldberg, Stefan Th. Gries, Vsevolod Kapatsinski, Jeffrey Lidz and Laurel Perkins, Silvina A. Montrul, Johanne Paradis, Tom Roeper, Jason Rothman and Noam Chomsky, Caroline F. Rowland, Roumyana Slabakova, Peter Svenonius, Eva Wittenberg and Ray Jackendoff, and Noriaki Yusa, and my reply.

A blog post on the Tolerance Principle by José-Luis Mendívil.

Professional advice from my friend David Evans @UVa.

Advice on how to give talks from one of my mentors and dissertation committee member Patrick Henry Winston.

over the years:

Bob Berwick, Johan Bolhuis,
Spencer Caplan, Noam Chomsky, Marie Coppola, Stephen Crain, Aletheia Cui, John Frampton, Josef Fruehwald, Tim Gambell, Lila Gleitman, Susan Goldin-Meadow, Kyle Gorman, Sam Gutmann, Marc Hauser, Morris Halle, Ava Irani, Jordan Kodner, Bill Labov, Julie Anne Legate, Constantine Lignos, Mitch Marcus, Silvina Montrul, Elissa Newport, David Pesetsky, Andy Podgurski, Russell Richie, Caitlin Richter, Don Ringe, Tom Roeper, William Sakas, Gillian Sankoff, Kathryn Schuler, Betsy Sneller, Jon Stevens, John Trueswell, Virginia Valian, and Hongzhi Xu.

In Memoriam: Morris Halle