Generalization of Linguistic Patterns

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  • Generalization is the recognition that observed entities (objects, sounds, organisms, etc.) are examples of less specific entities or kinds. It is a key component in learning. Take, for example, the learning of words. Children learn the word cat not by observing the concept cat but by observing a series of specific furry, four-legged creatures (each with its own proper name) and inferring that these creatures are examples of a less specific, not directly observed category cat, for which they infer particular conditions of application. The same principle applies in nonlinguistic domains (e.g., determining the set of objects on which it is acceptable to sit) and in the learning of grammar. A child comes to know that the statement I want the green caris an ...

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