The polysemy of the words that children learn over time
Here we study polysemy as a potential learning bias in vocabulary learning in children. Words of low polysemy could be preferred as they reduce the disambiguation effort for the listener. However, such preference could be a side-effect of another bias: the preference of children for nouns in combination with the lower polysemy of nouns with respect to other part-of-speech categories.Our results show that mean polysemy in children increases over time in two phases, i.e. a fast growth till the 31st month followed by a slower tendency towards adult speech. In contrast, this evolution is not found in adults interacting with children. This suggests that children have a preference for non-polysemous words in their early stages of vocabulary acquisition. Interestingly, the evolutionary pattern described above weakens when controlling for syntactic category (noun, verb, adjective or adverb) but it does not disappear completely, suggesting that it could result from a combination of a standalone bias for low polysemy and a preference for nouns.
Keywords: child language evolution, vocabulary learning, learning biases, polysemy, quantitative linguistics
Published online: 13 March 2019
Bai, J. & Perron, P.
Baixeries, J., Elvevåg, B., & Ferrer-i-Cancho, R.
Cross, E. M. & Chaffin, W. W.
Crossley, S., Salsbury, T., & McNamara, D.
Embrechts, P., McNeil, A., & Straumann, D.
Fausey, C. M., Yoshida, H., Asmuth, J., & Gentner, D.
(2017) Optimization models of natural communication. Journal of Quantitative Linguistics, http://arxiv.org/abs/1412.2486.
Ferrer-i-Cancho, R. & Hernández-Fernández, A.
Ferrer-i-Cancho, R. & Solé, R. V.
Foursha-Stevenson, C., Schembri, T., Nicoladis, E., & Eriksen, C.
Gibbons, J. D. & Chakraborti, S.
Gogate, L. & Hollich, G.
Goodman, J. C., Dale, P. S., & Li, P.
Gout, A., Christophe, A., & Morgan, J. L.
Harris, J., Golinkoff, R. M., & Hirsh-Pasek, K.
Hernández-Fernández, A., Casas, B., Ferrer-i-Cancho, R., & Baixeries, J.
Hills, T. T., Maouene, J., Riordon, B., & Smith, L. B.
Hills, T. T., Maouene, M., Maouene, J., Sheya, A., & Smith, L.
Klepousniotou, E., Pike, G. B., Steinhauer, K., & Gracco, V.
Langone, H., Haskell, B., & Miller, G.
McDonough, C., Song, L., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R. M., & Lannon, R.
Meltzoff, A. N.
Mervis, C. B.
Miller, G. A.
Parisien, C. & Stevenson, S.
Piotrowski, R. G., Pashkovskii, V. E., & Piotrowski, V. R.
Rodd, J. & Marslen-Wilson, G. G. W.
Roy, B. C., Frank, M. C., DeCampa, P., Millera, M., & Roy, D.
Snow, C. E.
Stamer, M. K. & Vitevitch, M. S.
Storkel, H. L.
Storkel, H. L., Armbruster, J., & Hogan, T. P.
Thiessen, E. D., Hill, E. A., & Saffran, J. R.
Waxman, S. R., Fu, X., Ferguson, B., Geraghty, K., Leddon, E., Liang, J., & Zhao, M.-F.
Zeileis, A., Kleiber, C., Krämer, W., & Hornik, K.
Zeileis, A., Leisch, F., Hornik, K., & Kleiber, C.
Cited by other publications
CAINES, Andrew, Emma ALTMANN-RICHER & Paula BUTTERY
Ferrer-i-Cancho, Ramon, Christian Bentz & Caio Seguin
This list is based on CrossRef data as of 03 november 2020. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.