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Concept: Word game


In this paper we explore the results of a large-scale online game called ‘the Great Language Game’, in which people listen to an audio speech sample and make a forced-choice guess about the identity of the language from 2 or more alternatives. The data include 15 million guesses from 400 audio recordings of 78 languages. We investigate which languages are confused for which in the game, and if this correlates with the similarities that linguists identify between languages. This includes shared lexical items, similar sound inventories and established historical relationships. Our findings are, as expected, that players are more likely to confuse two languages that are objectively more similar. We also investigate factors that may affect players' ability to accurately select the target language, such as how many people speak the language, how often the language is mentioned in written materials and the economic power of the target language community. We see that non-linguistic factors affect players' ability to accurately identify the target. For example, languages with wider ‘global reach’ are more often identified correctly. This suggests that both linguistic and cultural knowledge influence the perception and recognition of languages and their similarity.

Concepts: Translation, Word game, Similarity, Language, Semiotics, Cognition, Linguistics


ABSTRACT For sixty-seven children with ASD (age 1;6 to 5;11), mean Total Vocabulary score on the Language Development Survey (LDS) was 65·3 words; twenty-two children had no reported words; and twenty-one children had 1-49 words. When matched for vocabulary size, children with ASD and children in the LDS normative sample did not differ in semantic category or word-class scores. Q correlations were large when percentage use scores for the ASD sample were compared with those for samples of typically developing children as well as children with vocabularies <50 words. The 57 words with the highest percentage use scores for the ASD children were primarily nouns, represented a variety of semantic categories, and overlapped substantially with the words having highest percentage use scores in samples of typically developing children as well as children with lexicons of <50 words. Results indicated that the children with ASD were acquiring essentially the same words as typically developing children, suggesting delayed but not deviant lexical composition.

Concepts: Speech, Autism spectrum, Asperger syndrome, Word game, Vocabulary, Lexicography, Autism, Language


This study investigated how forty-six mothers modified their talk about familiar and unfamiliar nouns and verbs when interacting with their children with Down Syndrome (DS), language impairment (LI), or typical development (TD). Children (MLUs < 2·7) were group-matched on expressive vocabulary size. Mother-child dyads were recorded playing with toy animals (noun task) and action boxes (verb task). Mothers of children with DS used shorter utterances and more verb labels in salient positions than the other two groups. All mothers produced unfamiliar target nouns in short utterances, in utterance-final position, and with the referent perceptually available. Mothers also talked more about familiar nouns and verbs and labelled them more often and more consistently. These findings suggest that mothers of children in the early period of language development fine-tune their input in ways that reflect their children's vocabulary knowledge, but do so differently for nouns and verbs.

Concepts: Speech, Object, Word game, Reference, Down syndrome, Grammatical number, Verb, Noun


Infants differ substantially in their rates of language growth, and slow growth predicts later academic difficulties. In this study, we explored how the amount of speech directed to infants in Spanish-speaking families low in socioeconomic status influenced the development of children’s skill in real-time language processing and vocabulary learning. All-day recordings of parent-infant interactions at home revealed striking variability among families in how much speech caregivers addressed to their child. Infants who experienced more child-directed speech became more efficient in processing familiar words in real time and had larger expressive vocabularies by the age of 24 months, although speech simply overheard by the child was unrelated to vocabulary outcomes. Mediation analyses showed that the effect of child-directed speech on expressive vocabulary was explained by infants' language-processing efficiency, which suggests that richer language experience strengthens processing skills that facilitate language growth.

Concepts: The Child, Critical thinking, Skill, Word game, Learning, Vocabulary, Language, Speech


Young children learn language from the speech they hear. Previous work suggests that greater statistical diversity of words and of linguistic contexts is associated with better language outcomes. One potential source of lexical diversity is the text of picture books that caregivers read aloud to children. Many parents begin reading to their children shortly after birth, so this is potentially an important source of linguistic input for many children. We constructed a corpus of 100 children’s picture books and compared word type and token counts in that sample and a matched sample of child-directed speech. Overall, the picture books contained more unique word types than the child-directed speech. Further, individual picture books generally contained more unique word types than length-matched, child-directed conversations. The text of picture books may be an important source of vocabulary for young children, and these findings suggest a mechanism that underlies the language benefits associated with reading to children.

Concepts: Word, Orthography, Reading, Word game, Applied linguistics, Linguistics, Language


Little is known about the relationship between mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and changes to language abilities. Here, we used the revised Hasegawa Dementia Scale (HDS-R) to identify suspected MCI in elderly individuals. We then analyzed written and spoken narratives to compare the language abilities between study participants with and without MCI in order to explore the relationship between cognitive and language abilities, and to identify a possible indicator for the early detection of MCI and dementia. We recruited 22 people aged 74 to 86 years (mean: 78.32 years; standard deviation: 3.36). The participants were requested to write and talk about one of the happiest events in their lives. Based on HDS-R scores, we divided the participants into 2 groups: the MCI Group comprised 8 participants with a score of 26 or lower, while the Healthy Group comprised 14 participants with a score of 27 or higher. The transcriptions of both written and spoken samples for each participant were used in the measurement of NLP-based language ability scores. Our analysis showed no significant differences in writing abilities between the 2 groups in any of the language ability scores. However, analysis of the spoken narrative showed that the MCI Group had a significantly larger vocabulary size. In addition, analysis of a metric that signified the gap in content between the spoken and written narratives also revealed a larger vocabulary size in the MCI Group. Individuals with early-stage MCI may be engaging in behavior to conceal their deteriorating cognition, thereby leading to a temporary increase in their active spoken vocabulary. These results indicate the possible detection of early stages of reduced cognition before dementia onset through the analysis of spoken narratives.

Concepts: Writing, Word game, Cognition, Standard deviation, Narrative, Psychology, Speech, Language


Relations between walking skills and language development have been reported in 10- to 14-month-old infants. However, whether earlier emerging motor milestones also affect language skills remains unknown. The current research fills this gap by examining the relation between reaching and sitting skills and later language development, respectively. Reaching and sitting were assessed eight times, starting when infants (N = 29) were around 3 months of age. All assessments were completed and recorded remotely via videoconference using Skype or FaceTime. Subsequently, infants' language and motor skills were assessed via parent questionnaires (Communicative Development Inventories and Early Motor Questionnaire) at 10 and 14 months of age. Results revealed a significant correlation between the emergence of sitting skills and receptive vocabulary size at 10 and 14 months of age. Regression analyses further confirmed this pattern and revealed that the emergence of sitting is a significant predictor of subsequent language development above and beyond influences of concurrent motor skills. These findings suggest that the onset of independent sitting may initiate a developmental cascade that results in increased language learning opportunities. Further, this study also demonstrates how infants' early motor skills can be assessed remotely using videoconference.

Concepts: Word game, The Onset, Sitting, Infant, Child development, Speech, Learning, Developmental psychology


Nonword repetition (NWR) is highly predictive of vocabulary size, has strong links to language and reading ability, and is a clinical marker of language impairment. However, it is unclear what processes provide major contributions to NWR performance. This paper presents a computational model of NWR based on Chunking Lexical and Sub-lexical Sequences in Children (CLASSIC) that focuses on the child’s exposure to language when learning lexical phonological knowledge. Based on language input aimed at 2-6year old children, CLASSIC shows a substantial fit to children’s NWR performance for 6 different types of NWR test across 6 different NWR studies that use children of various ages from 2;1 to 6;1. Furthermore, CLASSIC’s repetitions of individual nonwords correlate significantly with children’s repetitions of the same nonwords, NWR performance shows strong correlations to vocabulary size, and interaction effects seen in the model are consistent with those found in children. Such a fit to the data is achieved without any need for developmental parameters, suggesting that between the ages of two and six years, NWR performance measures the child’s current level of linguistic knowledge that arises from their exposure to language over time and their ability to extract lexical phonological knowledge from that exposure.

Concepts: Word game,, Vocabulary, Developmental psychology, Lexicography, Speech, Language, Linguistics


Many children with communication disorders have reading comprehension difficulties, and in order to target interventions effectively it is important to identify which specific components of comprehension are especially challenging. The current study explored the relationship between text inferencing skill, autistic symptomatology and language phenotype.

Concepts: Word game, Theorem, Logic, Reading comprehension


Children who generate and update verbal predictions have larger vocabularies, suggesting that prediction may be a mechanism that supports language learning. We hypothesize that this relation is not confined to the domain of language, but instead signals a broader individual difference in information processing. To investigate this possibility, we tested infants (n = 50) in the early stages of vocabulary development (12-24 months) on their ability to generate and update nonverbal, visual predictions. In an eye-tracking task, a central fixation reliably preceded a peripheral target. Then, halfway through the experiment, the peripheral target began appearing on the opposite side. We assessed infants' proficiency in initiating anticipatory eye movements before and after the switch, and found that infants with larger vocabularies did not generate more predictions overall, but were more efficient in updating predictions to the new target side. These findings establish a link between nonverbal prediction and vocabulary in infancy, and suggest a promising means of addressing whether or not prediction abilities are causally related to language learning.

Concepts: Prediction, Vocabulary, Language, Hypothesis, Speech, Word game