How do children acquire the meaning of words? And why are words such as know harder for learners to acquire than words such as dog or jump? We suggest that the chief limiting factor in acquiring the vocabulary of natural languages consists not in overcoming conceptual difficulties with abstract word meanings but rather in mapping these meanings onto their corresponding lexical forms. This opening premise of our position, while controversial, is shared with some prior approaches. The present discussion moves forward (...) from there to a detailed proposal for how the mapping problem for the lexicon is solved, as well as a presentation of experimental findings that support this account. We describe an overlapping series of steps through which novices move in representing the lexical forms and phrase structures of the exposure language, a probabilistic multiple-cue learning process known as syntactic bootstrapping. The machinery is set in motion by word-to-world pairing, a procedure available to novices from the.. (shrink)
We evaluate here the performance of four models of cross-situational word learning: two global models, which extract and retain multiple referential alternatives from each word occurrence; and two local models, which extract just a single referent from each occurrence. One of these local models, dubbed Pursuit, uses an associative learning mechanism to estimate word-referent probability but pursues and tests the best referent-meaning at any given time. Pursuit is found to perform as well as global models under many conditions extracted from (...) naturalistic corpora of parent-child interactions, even though the model maintains far less information than global models. Moreover, Pursuit is found to best capture human experimental findings from several relevant cross-situational word-learning experiments, including those of Yu and Smith (), the paradigm example of a finding believed to support fully global cross-situational models. Implications and limitations of these results are discussed, most notably that the model characterizes only the earliest stages of word learning, when reliance on the co-occurring referent world is at its greatest. (shrink)
Gleitman and Trueswell’s “The easy words” forms a pair with their earlier paper, “Hard words,” completing a circle in which the authors ask how “easy” words (e.g., concrete nouns) are learned. They take up the hypothesis of “cross‐situational learning,” and argue that accumulating observations actually hinders learning if the mechanism requires holding all exemplars in memory over time. They present an alternative hypothesis, “Propose but Verify,” wherein people use one‐trial learning to confirm or disconfirm their current hypothesis—a mechanism distinctly different (...) from cross‐situational learning. (shrink)
What are the landmarks of the cognitive revolution? What are the core topics of modern cognitive science? Where is cognitive science heading to? Leading cognitive scientists--Chomsky, Pylyshyn, Gallistel, and others--examine their own work in relation to one of cognitive science's most influential and polemical figures: Jerry Fodor.