ERIC Number: EJ781114
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Nov
Reference Count: 0
Pronouns and Verbs in Adult Speech to Children: A Corpus Analysis
Laakso, Aarre; Smith, Linda B.
Journal of Child Language, v34 n4 p725-763 Nov 2007
Assessing whether domain-general mechanisms could account for language acquisition requires determining whether statistical regularities among surface cues in child directed speech (CDS) are sufficient for inducing deep syntactic and semantic structure. This paper reports a case study on the relation between pronoun usage in CDS, on the one hand, and broad verb classes, on the other. A corpus analysis reveals statistical regularities in co-occurrences between pronouns and verbs in CDS that could cue physical versus psychological verbs. A simulation demonstrates that a simple statistical learner can acquire these regularities and exploit them to activate verbs that are consistent with incomplete utterances in simple syntactic frames. Thus, in this case, surface regularities are sufficiently informative for inducing broad semantic categories. Children might use these regularities in pronoun/verb co-occurrences to help learn verbs, although whether they actually do so remains a topic of ongoing research. [Previous versions of portions of this work have appeared in the "Proceedings of the Workshop "Psycho-Computational Models of Human Language Acquisition" at the 20th International Conference on Computational Linguistics"; the "Proceedings of the 26th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society"; and the "Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Cognitive Modeling".]
Descriptors: Cues, Semantics, Verbs, Computational Linguistics, Language Acquisition, Adults, Children, Form Classes (Languages)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Mental Health (DHHS), Bethesda, MD.
Authoring Institution: N/A