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Original languageEnglish
Article number8120012
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)530 - 544
JournalIEEE Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems
Journal publication date1 Sep 2018
Volume10
Issue3
Early online date27 Nov 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018

Abstract

Modern theories on early child language acquisition tend to focus on referential words, mostly nouns, labeling concrete objects, or physical properties. In this experimental proof-of-concept study, we show how nonreferential negation words, typically belonging to a child's first ten words, may be acquired. A child-like humanoid robot is deployed in speech-wise unconstrained interaction with naïve human participants. In agreement with psycholinguistic observations, we corroborate the hypothesis that affect plays a pivotal role in the socially distributed acquisition process where the adept conversation partner provides linguistic interpretations of the affective displays of the less adept speaker. Negation words are prosodically salient within intent interpretations that are triggered by the learner's display of affect. From there they can be picked up and used by the budding language learner which may involve the grounding of these words in the very affective states that triggered them in the first place. The pragmatic analysis of the robot's linguistic performance indicates that the correct timing of negative utterances is essential for the listener to infer the meaning of otherwise ambiguous negative utterances. In order to assess the robot's performance thoroughly comparative data from psycholinguistic studies of parent-child dyads is needed highlighting the need for further interdisciplinary work.

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© 2017 IEEE. This article has been accepted for publication in a forthcoming issue of IEEE Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems. Personal use of this material is permitted. Permission from IEEE must be obtained for all other users, including reprinting/ republishing this material for advertising or promotional purposes, creating new collective works for resale or redistribution to servers or lists, or reuse of any copyrighted components of this work in other works.

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