LEC talk Tuesday 24 November: Alan Nielsen

By jon | November 21, 2015

Tuesday 24 November, 11:00–12:30
Room 1.17, DSB

Alan Nielsen

Systematicity, contrastiveness, and learnability: Evidence from a growing lexicon experiment

Typically, experiments exploring the degree to which systematicity and motivatedness compare the learnability of complete artificial lexica to one another, concluding that associations between words and meanings that are systematic create learnability penalties at certain sizes. That is, systematic associations between words and meanings, whether they are motivated or not, necessarily create artificial lexica that are more constrained, i.e. words are sufficiently similar to one another that they are easily confused.

In this talk I present the results of an experiment using a paradigm designed to explore this learning penalty directly by teaching participants an artificial language over time, allowing for a comparison between how well words are learned at first exposure, compared to how well they are learned after similar labels enter the lexicon.

Additionally, the experimental design allows for us to test a simple version of the bootstrapping hypothesis, which suggests that the acquisition of motivated tokens bootstraps the acquisition of later non-motivated tokens.

We find support for the first of these hypotheses: as signal spaces become increasingly saturated, individual labels within those lexica become increasingly difficult to learn. We do not, however, find support for the bootstrapping hypothesis.