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How Data Drive Early Word Learning: A Cross-Linguistic Waiting Time Analysis

How Data Drive Early Word Learning: A Cross-Linguistic Waiting Time Analysis The extent to which word learning is delayed by maturation as opposed to accumulating data is a longstanding question in language acquisition. Further, the precise way in which data influence learning on a large scale is unknown—experimental results reveal that children can rapidly learn words from single instances as well as by aggregating ambiguous information across multiple situations. We analyze Wordbank, a large cross-linguistic dataset of word acquisition norms, using a statistical waiting time model to quantify the role of data in early language learning, building off Hidaka (2013). We find that the model both fits and accurately predicts the shape of children’s growth curves. Further analyses of model parameters suggest a primarily data-driven account of early word learning. The parameters of the model directly characterize both the amount of data required and the rate at which informative data occurs. With high statistical certainty, words require on the order of ∼ 10 learning instances, which occur on average once every two months. Our method is extremely simple, statistically principled, and broadly applicable to modeling data-driven learning effects in development. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Open Mind MIT Press

How Data Drive Early Word Learning: A Cross-Linguistic Waiting Time Analysis

Open Mind , Volume 1 (2): 11 – Sep 13, 2017

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Publisher
MIT Press
Copyright
Copyright © MIT Press
eISSN
2470-2986
DOI
10.1162/OPMI_a_00006
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The extent to which word learning is delayed by maturation as opposed to accumulating data is a longstanding question in language acquisition. Further, the precise way in which data influence learning on a large scale is unknown—experimental results reveal that children can rapidly learn words from single instances as well as by aggregating ambiguous information across multiple situations. We analyze Wordbank, a large cross-linguistic dataset of word acquisition norms, using a statistical waiting time model to quantify the role of data in early language learning, building off Hidaka (2013). We find that the model both fits and accurately predicts the shape of children’s growth curves. Further analyses of model parameters suggest a primarily data-driven account of early word learning. The parameters of the model directly characterize both the amount of data required and the rate at which informative data occurs. With high statistical certainty, words require on the order of ∼ 10 learning instances, which occur on average once every two months. Our method is extremely simple, statistically principled, and broadly applicable to modeling data-driven learning effects in development.

Journal

Open MindMIT Press

Published: Sep 13, 2017

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