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Title:Soft Constraints on Mapping Form to Meaning in Lexical Acquisition
Author(s):Casenhiser, Devin Mark
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Goldberg, Adele E.
Department / Program:Linguistics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Developmental
Abstract:Research in diachronic Linguistics has shown that homonyms are often avoided in language. This study proposes that this trend is a result of general cognitive principles at work during language acquisition. In support of this proposition, the first two experiments present findings demonstrating that children disprefer learning a different, unrelated meaning for a known word when that word is used in a linguistic context that fails to bias strongly for a new meaning. Children, however, appear to have much less difficulty in learning homonyms when the syntactic context clearly indicates that a new meaning is required. A third experiment investigates the implications of the proposal for polysemy. This final experiment shows that children are likely to interpret an accoustically ambiguous stimulus as a known word only if the known word is related to the context in which they hear the word. Otherwise, children prefer a novel word over an unrelated known word (i.e., a homonym).
Issue Date:2004
Description:96 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2004.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3130890
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2004

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