Isaac Scheinfeld


The Development of Abstract Concepts in Children’s Early Lexical Networks
Abdellah Fourtassi | Isaac Scheinfeld | Michael Frank
Proceedings of the Workshop on Cognitive Modeling and Computational Linguistics

How do children learn abstract concepts such as animal vs. artifact? Previous research has suggested that such concepts can partly be derived using cues from the language children hear around them. Following this suggestion, we propose a model where we represent the children’ developing lexicon as an evolving network. The nodes of this network are based on vocabulary knowledge as reported by parents, and the edges between pairs of nodes are based on the probability of their co-occurrence in a corpus of child-directed speech. We found that several abstract categories can be identified as the dense regions in such networks. In addition, our simulations suggest that these categories develop simultaneously, rather than sequentially, thanks to the children’s word learning trajectory which favors the exploration of the global conceptual space.