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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Oct 13;112(41):12663-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1419773112. Epub 2015 Sep 21.

Predicting the birth of a spoken word.

Author information

1
MIT Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139; Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305 bcroy@media.mit.edu.
2
Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305.
3
MIT Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139;

Abstract

Children learn words through an accumulation of interactions grounded in context. Although many factors in the learning environment have been shown to contribute to word learning in individual studies, no empirical synthesis connects across factors. We introduce a new ultradense corpus of audio and video recordings of a single child's life that allows us to measure the child's experience of each word in his vocabulary. This corpus provides the first direct comparison, to our knowledge, between different predictors of the child's production of individual words. We develop a series of new measures of the distinctiveness of the spatial, temporal, and linguistic contexts in which a word appears, and show that these measures are stronger predictors of learning than frequency of use and that, unlike frequency, they play a consistent role across different syntactic categories. Our findings provide a concrete instantiation of classic ideas about the role of coherent activities in word learning and demonstrate the value of multimodal data in understanding children's language acquisition.

KEYWORDS:

diary study; language acquisition; multimodal corpus analysis; word learning

PMID:
26392523
PMCID:
PMC4611597
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1419773112
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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