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The learning of first and second person pronouns in English: network models and analysis

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 October 1999

YURIKO OSHIMA-TAKANE
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, McGill University
YOSHIO TAKANE
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, McGill University
THOMAS R. SHULTZ
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, McGill University

Abstract

Although most English-speaking children master the correct use of first and second person pronouns by three years, some children show persistent reversal errors in which they refer to themselves as you and to others as me. Recently, such differences have been attributed to the relative availability of overheard speech during the learning process. The present study tested this proposal with feed-forward neural networks learning these pronouns. Network learning speed and analysis of their knowledge representations confirmed the importance of exposure to shifting reference provided by overheard speech. Errorless pronoun learning was linked to the amount of overheard speech, interactions with a greater number of speakers, and prior knowledge of the basic-level kind PERSON.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 1999 Cambridge University Press

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Footnotes

This research was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. We thank David Buckingham, Sylvain Sirois, Sheldon Tetewsky, Marina Takane and David Nicolas for helpful comments.
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