Cross-Situational Word Learning

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  • There are an infinite number of possible word-to-world pairings in naturalistic learning environments. One proposal to solve this mapping problem focuses on linguistic, social, and representational constraints, enabling learners to unambiguously decide the referent of a word at a single encounter. However, in many everyday scenarios, there are typically many words, many potential referents, and limited cues as to which words go with which referents.

    Each of such ambiguous learning contexts may not provide enough information to discover correct word-referent mappings. However, a cross-situational learning account suggests that the indeterminacy problem may also be solved cross-situationally, not in a single encounter with a word and potential referent but across multiple encounters and learning trials. A learner who is unable to unambiguously decide the referent of a ...

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