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Toddlers use speech disfluencies to predict speakers' referential Celeste Kidd,1
 

Summary: PAPER
Toddlers use speech disfluencies to predict speakers' referential
intentions
Celeste Kidd,1
Katherine S. White2
and Richard N. Aslin1,3
1. Brain & Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester, USA
2. Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, Canada
3. Center for Visual Sciences, University of Rochester, USA
Abstract
The ability to infer the referential intentions of speakers is a crucial part of learning a language. Previous research has uncovered
various contextual and social cues that children may use to do this. Here we provide the first evidence that children also use
speech disfluencies to infer speaker intention. Disfluencies (e.g. filled pauses `uh' and `um') occur in predictable locations, such
as before infrequent or discourse-new words. We conducted an eye-tracking study to investigate whether young children can make
use of this distributional information in order to predict a speaker's intended referent. Our results reveal that young children
(ages 2;4 to 2;8) reliably attend to speech disfluencies early in lexical development and are able to use disfluencies in
online comprehension to infer speaker intention in advance of object labeling. Our results from two groups of younger children
(ages 1;8 to 2;2 and 1;4 to 1;8) suggest that this ability emerges around age 2.
Introduction
Inferring a speaker's intention is crucial to successful

  

Source: Aslin, Richard N. - Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester
DeAngelis, Gregory - Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester

 

Collections: Biology and Medicine