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Table of assumptions used in our estimates from Humans store about 1.5 megabytes of information during language acquisition

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journal contribution
posted on 20.03.2019, 07:28 by Francis Mollica, Steven T. Piantadosi
We introduce theory-neutral estimates of the amount of information learners know about how language works. We provide estimates at several levels of linguistic analysis: phonemes, wordforms, lexical semantics, word frequency and syntax. Our best guess is that the average English-speaking adult has learned 12.5 million bits of information, the majority of which is lexical semantics. Interestingly, very little of this information is syntactic, even in our upper bound analyses. Generally, our results suggest that learners possess remarkable inferential mechanisms capable of extracting, on average, nearly 2000 bits of information about how language works each day for 18 years.


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