Modeling Child Divergences from Adult Grammar

Sam Sahakian, Benjamin Snyder


During the course of first language acquisition, children produce linguistic forms that do not conform to adult grammar. In this paper, we introduce a data set and approach for systematically modeling this child-adult grammar divergence. Our corpus consists of child sentences with corrected adult forms. We bridge the gap between these forms with a discriminatively reranked noisy channel model that translates child sentences into equivalent adult utterances. Our method outperforms MT and ESL baselines, reducing child error by 20%. Our model allows us to chart specific aspects of grammar development in longitudinal studies of children, and investigate the hypothesis that children share a common developmental path in language acquisition.


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