Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Detecting structured repetition in child-surrounding speech: Evidence from maximally diverse languages


Lester, Nicholas A; Moran, Steven; Küntay, Aylin C; Allen, Shanley E M; Pfeiler, Barbara; Stoll, Sabine (2022). Detecting structured repetition in child-surrounding speech: Evidence from maximally diverse languages. Cognition, 221:104986.

Abstract

Caretakers tend to repeat themselves when speaking to children, either to clarify their message or to redirect wandering attention. This repetition also appears to support language learning. For example, words that are heard more frequently tend to be produced earlier by young children. However, pure repetition only goes so far; some variation between utterances is necessary to support acquisition of a fully productive grammar. When individual words or morphemes are repeated, but embedded in different lexical and syntactic contexts, the child has more information about how these forms may be used and combined. Corpus analysis has shown that these partial repetitions frequently occur in clusters, which have been coined variation sets. More recent research has introduced algorithms that can extract these variation sets automatically from corpora with the goal of measuring their relative prevalence across ages and languages. Longitudinal analyses have revealed that rates of variation sets tend to decrease as children get older. We extend this research in several ways. First, we consider a maximally diverse sample of languages, both genealogically and geographically, to test the generalizability of developmental trends. Second, we compare multiple levels of repetition, both words and morphemes, to account for typological differences in how information is encoded. Third, we consider several additional measures of development to account for deficiencies in age as a measure of linguistic aptitude. Fourth, we examine whether the levels of repetition found in child-surrounding speech is greater or less than what would have been expected by chance. This analysis produced a new measure, redundancy, which captures how repetitive speech is on average given how repeititive it could have been. Fifth, we compare rates of repetition in child-surrounding and adult-directed speech to test whether variation sets are especially prevalent in child-surrounding speech. We find that (1) some languages show increases in repetition over development, (2) true estimates of variation sets are generally lower than or equal to random baselines, (3) these patterns are largely convergent across developmental indices, and (4) adult-directed speech is reliably less redundant, though in some cases more repetitive, than child-surrounding speech. These results are discussed with respect to features of the corpora, typological properties of the languages, and differential rates of change in repetition and redundancy over children's development.

Abstract

Caretakers tend to repeat themselves when speaking to children, either to clarify their message or to redirect wandering attention. This repetition also appears to support language learning. For example, words that are heard more frequently tend to be produced earlier by young children. However, pure repetition only goes so far; some variation between utterances is necessary to support acquisition of a fully productive grammar. When individual words or morphemes are repeated, but embedded in different lexical and syntactic contexts, the child has more information about how these forms may be used and combined. Corpus analysis has shown that these partial repetitions frequently occur in clusters, which have been coined variation sets. More recent research has introduced algorithms that can extract these variation sets automatically from corpora with the goal of measuring their relative prevalence across ages and languages. Longitudinal analyses have revealed that rates of variation sets tend to decrease as children get older. We extend this research in several ways. First, we consider a maximally diverse sample of languages, both genealogically and geographically, to test the generalizability of developmental trends. Second, we compare multiple levels of repetition, both words and morphemes, to account for typological differences in how information is encoded. Third, we consider several additional measures of development to account for deficiencies in age as a measure of linguistic aptitude. Fourth, we examine whether the levels of repetition found in child-surrounding speech is greater or less than what would have been expected by chance. This analysis produced a new measure, redundancy, which captures how repetitive speech is on average given how repeititive it could have been. Fifth, we compare rates of repetition in child-surrounding and adult-directed speech to test whether variation sets are especially prevalent in child-surrounding speech. We find that (1) some languages show increases in repetition over development, (2) true estimates of variation sets are generally lower than or equal to random baselines, (3) these patterns are largely convergent across developmental indices, and (4) adult-directed speech is reliably less redundant, though in some cases more repetitive, than child-surrounding speech. These results are discussed with respect to features of the corpora, typological properties of the languages, and differential rates of change in repetition and redundancy over children's development.

Statistics

Citations

Dimensions.ai Metrics
4 citations in Web of Science®
3 citations in Scopus®
Google Scholar™

Altmetrics

Downloads

77 downloads since deposited on 23 Jan 2022
34 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Comparative Language Science
06 Faculty of Arts > Zurich Center for Linguistics
Special Collections > NCCR Evolving Language
Special Collections > Centers of Competence > Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Language Evolution
Dewey Decimal Classification:490 Other languages
890 Other literatures
410 Linguistics
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Language and Linguistics
Social Sciences & Humanities > Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Developmental and Educational Psychology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Linguistics and Language
Life Sciences > Cognitive Neuroscience
Uncontrolled Keywords:Cognitive Neuroscience, Linguistics and Language, Developmental and Educational Psychology, Language and Linguistics, Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
Language:English
Date:1 April 2022
Deposited On:23 Jan 2022 17:14
Last Modified:27 Nov 2023 02:43
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0010-0277
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104986
Project Information:
  • : FunderEuropean Research Council
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderSwiss National Science Foundation
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)