Induction in Language Learning

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  • Induction is a type of reasoning that involves deriving general principles from specific examples. It contrasts with deduction, in which specific examples are derived from generalities. Deductions can be made with certainty: From a general statement like All men are mortal, one can conclude that a specific man, Bob, is mortal. Induction, however, is probabilistic: There are always many logically possible ways to generalize on the basis of specific facts. Nearly all aspects of language must be learned by induction: Children hear specific instances of phonemes, morphology, words, and sentences, from which they must derive the general principles of their language.

    Induction in Word Learning

    The fact that induction is inherently logically under-constrained is especially evident in word learning, as was pointed out by the philosopher W. ...

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