The Semantic Spaces of Child-Directed Speech, Child Speech and Adult-directed Speech: A Manifold Perspective


Child-directed speech (CDS) is a talking style adopted by caregivers when they talk to toddlers (Snow, 1995). We consider the role of distributional semantic features of CDS in language acquisition. We view semantic structure as a manifold on which words lie. We compare the semantic structure of verbs in CDS to the semantic structure of child speech (CS) and adult-directed speech (ADS) by measuring how easy it is to align the manifolds. We find that it is easier to align verbs in CS to CDS than to align CS to ADS, suggesting that the semantic structure of CDS is reflected in child productions. We also find, by measuring verbs vertex degrees in a semantic graph, that a mixed initialized set of verbs with high degrees and medium degrees has the best performance among all alignments, suggesting that both semantic generality and diversity may be important for developing semantic representations.

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