Finding the Verbs: Distributional Cues to Categories Available to Young Learners
This chapter discusses a kind of information inherent in the structure of children's linguistic input that they could use to categorize verbs together. The information is a type of distributional information involving the patterning of words in sentences. The general hypothesis is that words of the same grammatical form-class category (e.g. noun, verb, adjective, etc.) occur in similar distributional patterns across utterances and that this information could be a basis for learners to identify verbs as well as other categories. The chapter presents a two-part examination of the degree to which the category of words can accurately be derived from distributional information. The first part motivates and discusses in detail a recent approach involving frequent frames as a distributional context, and along the way provides a comparison to other recent distributional approaches. The second part presents preliminary behavioral evidence that infants, indeed, categorize novel words based on distributional information, and perhaps based on frequent frames.
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