The Onset of Syntactic Bootstrapping in Word Learning: Evidence from a Computational Study


The syntactic bootstrapping hypothesis suggests that children's verb learning is guided by the structural cues that the linguistic context provides. However, the onset of syntactic bootstrapping in word learning is not well studied. To investigate the impact of linguistic information on word learning during early stages of language acquisition, we use a computational model of learning syntactic constructions from usage data, and adapt it to the task of identifying target words in novel situations. Our results show that having access to linguistic information significantly improves performance in identifying verbs (but not nouns) in later stages of learning, yet no such effect can be observed in earlier stages.

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