Correlation versus prediction in children's word learning: Cross-linguistic evidence and simulations. Journal Article uri icon



  • The ontological distinction between discrete individuated objects and continuous substances, and the way this distinction is expressed in different languages has been a fertile area for examining the relation between language and thought. In this paper we combine simulations and a cross-linguistic word learning task as a way to gain insight into the nature of the learning mechanisms involved in word learning. First, we look at the effect of the different correlational structures on novel generalizations with two kinds of learning tasks implemented in neural networks-prediction and correlation. Second, we look at English- and Spanish-speaking 2-3-year-olds' novel noun generalizations, and find that count/mass syntax has a stronger effect on Spanish- than on English-speaking children's novel noun generalizations, consistent with the predicting networks. The results suggest that it is not just the correlational structure of different linguistic cues that will determine how they are learned, but the specific learning mechanism and task in which they are involved.

publication date

  • October 1, 2009

Full Author List

  • Colunga E; Smith LB; Gasser M

Other Profiles

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 197

end page

  • 217


  • 1


  • 2