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Saturday, August 04, 2007

What Explains Toddlers' Linguistic Leap? Math

Simple math may explain why toddlers experience a sudden burst of words—and why some talk earlier and more than others.
By David Biello

TODDLER TALK: The explosion in language between the ages of one and two can be explained by a simple mathematical model—the bell curve—as long as some words are more difficult to learn than others. Cognitive scientist Bob McMurray of the University of Iowa set up a relatively simple mathematical model of word learning on a commonly available spreadsheet, assessing the potential to learn each of some 200 words. He set a numerical threshold at which a given word would be considered learned, operating under the assumption that it would take kids time to learn each word, they could pick up multiple words at the same time, and that some words were more difficult to process.

Source: Scientific American

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