Navigation Links
Sound trumps meaning in first language learning
Date:3/12/2014

(Washington, DC) A new study reveals that four-to-seven-year-old children rely on the sounds of new nouns more than on their meaning when assigning them to noun classes, even though the meaning is more predictive of noun class in the adult language. This finding reveals that children's sensitivity to their linguistic environment does not line up with objective measures of informativity, highlighting the active role that children play in selecting the data from which they learn language.

The study, "Statistical Insensitivity in the Acquisition of Tsez Noun Classes," was published in the March, 2014 issue of the scholarly journal Language. A pre-print version of the article may be found at: http://www.linguisticsociety.org/document/statistical-insensitivity-acquisition-tsez-noun-classes.

The article examines children's acquisition of Tsez, a language spoken by approximately 6000 people in Dagestan, in the Russian Caucasus. The authors, Annie Gagliardi of Harvard University and Jeffrey Lidz of the University of Maryland, recorded the speech that two children heard at home, then analyzed this speech to see what kinds of nouns the children heard and what was common among the members of each noun class (grammatical gender). They found that both semantic and phonological characteristics helped to organize the nouns into classes, though the semantic cues were more highly predictive. For example, all animals are in Class Three (e.g., cat, dog, sheep) and about half of the words starting with 'r' are in Class Four. But, when the researchers had children classify new words, the children relied on the less predictive phonological features than on the more predictive semantic features.

Tsez speakers use a noun's category to determine the form of verbs and adjectives in sentences. For example, the same adjective (e.g., igu = 'good') will have a different form depending on the category of the word it is modifying (bigu k'e'tu = 'good cat' vs. rigu čorpa = 'good soup'). Gagliardi and Lidz taught adult and child Tsez speakers new nouns, without revealing their class, and elicited sentences containing these new nouns. The form of the verb that the speakers used revealed the noun class that the Tsez speakers assigned to the new nouns. The new nouns consisted of three types: nouns that had highly predictive features (e.g. animals), less predictive features (e.g. beginning with 'r'), and a combination of features that made conflicting predictions (e.g. an animal that began with 'r'). The authors found that adult speakers put the nouns in the class predicted by the features, and when the features conflicted, they preferred to put the noun in the class associated with the more highly predictive feature (e.g. the class for animals when the noun was both an animal and began with 'r'). Young children, however, showed a different pattern, preferring to put the nouns in the class associated with the less predictive phonological information.

The children's behavior is surprising relative to previous research on children's sensitivity to their linguistic environment. Much recent work has emphasized how exquisitely sensitive children are to distributional features of the language they are acquiring and the role this sensitivity plays in guiding learning. The current work suggests that children play a more active role in filtering the data that they learn from. As a result, they do not always rely on the most predictive information available when learning their first language. Instead, children disproportionally value the phonological information. This preference could stem from the fact that phonological information is available earlier in development or because it's more reliably identified when a new word is learned. These findings help us understand the interaction between children's abilities to extract information from the environment and their initial expectations about language structure.


'/>"/>

Contact: Alyson Reed
areed@lsadc.org
202-835-1714
Linguistic Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Study examines benefit of follow-up CT when abdominal ultrasound inconclusive
2. Breast cancer patients with positive ultrasound guided axillary node biopsy need dissection
3. Automated breast ultrasound dramatically reduces physician interpretation time
4. Screening for breast cancer without X-rays: Lasers and sound merge in promising diagnostic technique
5. Contrast-enhanced ultrasound monitors aortic aneurysm treatment
6. Huge Rise in CT, MRI, Ultrasound Scan Use: Study
7. AIUM and AUA guideline development leads to practice accreditation for urologic ultrasound
8. AMA adopts diagnostic ultrasound utilization and education resolution
9. Rewired visual input to sound-processing part of the brain leads to compromised hearing
10. Scientists use sound waves to levitate liquids, improve pharmaceuticals
11. Sound level around seriously ill patients like a busy road
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/26/2017)... ... 26, 2017 , ... Mediaplanet is proud to announce the launch of its ... will educate readers on how to take care of all aspects of their skin. ... on melanoma. Dancing with the Stars professional, Witney Carson, shares her journey with the ...
(Date:5/26/2017)... ... May 26, 2017 , ... The American ... review more than eighty-nine grant submissions all vying for nearly $1,000,000 in funding ... Parkinson’s field.     , The American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) is focused on advancing ...
(Date:5/26/2017)... ... May 26, 2017 , ... ... Boston CEO 2017 on May 30th and 31st at The Four Seasons Hotel ... leading executives in the life sciences, offering exclusive access to key decision makers ...
(Date:5/26/2017)... ... May 26, 2017 , ... The ... educational seminar to focus on current legislative activity and the latest regulatory concerns ... 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 10, and will continue through Monday, Sept. 11, at ...
(Date:5/26/2017)... ... 26, 2017 , ... Amir Qureshi, MD is the first physician in Arkansas ... stimulation system. The Nuvectra™ Algovita SCS System has been FDA approved as a treatment ... in Arkansas to introduce the most powerful SCS system and the only stretchable lead ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/26/2017)... May 26, 2017  Endo International plc (NASDAQ: ... and CEO, will represent the Company in a fireside chat ... on Tuesday, June 13, 2017 at 10:40 a.m. PT / ... Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. ... event will be available on the Company,s website at ...
(Date:5/26/2017)... 2017  In response to the opioid epidemic in ... is working with Pfizer to make up to 1 ... to community health centers, free and charitable clinics, public ... "Pfizer has a long-standing commitment to improving health ... safety through educational activities," said Caroline Roan , ...
(Date:5/24/2017)... 24, 2017  ivWatch LLC today announced the ... Board to enable seamless integration of ivWatch,s groundbreaking ... infusion pumps and other devices. By integrating ivWatch ... to help health care customers deliver a higher ... to IV therapy. "The ivWatch OEM ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: