Gary Jones, Fernand Gobet & Julian M. Pine (in press)

A process model of children's early verb use. Proceedings of the Twenty Second Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Philadelphia, USA, 2000.



The verb-island hypothesis (Tomasello, 1992) states that children's early grammars consist of sets of lexically-specific predicate structures (or verb-islands). However, Pine, Lieven and Rowland (1998) have found that children's early language can also be built around lexical items other than verbs, such as pronouns (this contradicts a strict version of the verb-island hypothesis). This paper presents a computational model (called MOSAIC), which constructs a network of nodes and links based on a performance-limited distributional analysis of the input (mother's speech). The results show that utterances generated from MOSAIC: (1) more closely resemble the child's data than the child's mother's data on which MOSAIC is trained; and (2) can readily simulate both the verb-island and other-island phenomena which exist in the child's data.