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Semantic cues in language learning: an artificial language study with adult and child learners

Semantic cues in language learning: an artificial language study with adult and child learners

Brown, Helen, Smith, Kenny, Samara, Anna ORCID: 0000-0001-6503-5181 and Wonnacott, Elizabeth (2021) Semantic cues in language learning: an artificial language study with adult and child learners. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience. ISSN 2327-3798 (Print), 2327-3801 (Online) (doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/23273798.2021.1995612)

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Abstract

Grammatical regularities may correlate with semantics; e.g., grammatical gender is often partially predictable from the noun’s semantics. We explore whether learners generalise over semantic cues, and whether extent of exposure (1 versus 4 sessions) and number of exemplars for each semantic class (type-frequency) affect this. Six-year-olds and adults were exposed to semi-artificial languages where nouns co-occurred with novel particles, with particle usage fully or partially determined by the semantics of nouns. Both adults and children generalised to novel nouns when semantic cues were fully consistent. Adults (but not children) also generalised when cues were partially consistent. Generalisation increased with exposure, however there was no evidence that increasing type-frequency (i.e. more nouns per semantic class) increased generalisation. Post-experiment interviews also suggested that successful generalisation depended on explicit awareness. These results suggest that semantic cues are particularly difficult for children to exploit during the early stages of language acquisition.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Artificial language learning; language acquisition; statistical learning; semantic cues
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC5201 Education extension. Adult education. Continuing education
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > Institute for Lifecourse Development
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > Institute for Lifecourse Development > Centre for Thinking and Learning
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > School of Human Sciences (HUM)
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2021 11:11
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
Selected for REF2021: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/34212

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