Learning that numbers are the same, while learning that they are different


It has been suggested that the way that number words are used may play an important role in the development of number concepts. However, little is currently known about the overall ways in which number words are used in child-directed speech. To address this, we performed an analysis of how number words are used in the CHILDES database. We looked at four statistics: 1) lexical frequency, 2) contextual diversity, 3) word co-occurrence, and 4) distributional similarity, to see if these distributional statistics suggest why some aspects of number acquisition are easy and others are hard, and if these statistics are informative about specific debates in number acquisition. We found that that are many important differences in how small and large number words are used (such as differences in frequency, co-occurrence patterns, and distributional similarity), differences that may play an role in shaping hypotheses about children’s acquisition of number concepts.

Back to Table of Contents