Generic noun phrases in child speech

AbstractA wealth of developmental evidence suggests that children essentialise natural kind but not artifact categories, and that both adults and children use generic language less with artifacts as well (Gelman, 2003). Here we further explore the latter result using a novel model for generic identification. We apply our model to a much larger dataset than before, consisting of 26 CHILDES corpora of naturalistic speech involving children at a variety of ages and in a variety of contexts. We found no consistent preference for generic usage in animates over artifacts. Follow-up analyses indicate that this result was probably driven by our inclusion of a wider variety of nouns into our dataset than previous work.

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