SCALab seminarscalab Séminaire
Word is as word does: A functional definition of word learning
My talk will focus on two intertwined questions: What is a word and what does it mean to learn a word? In addressing these questions, I will argue for a functional definition of lexicality, under which a word (old or new) is defined in terms of its interactions with other parts of the system (e.g., other words and speech sounds). In line with this approach, I will present examples of how one can study word learning by assessing the degree to which a new word can act as a familiar word. Defining lexicality in terms of functional properties allows us to conceptualize word learning as a gradual process, while it is also compatible with a view of the mental lexicon as a malleable system that is continuously fine-tuned and shaped by experience.