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Title: When one meaning is not enough: Word learning in a polysemous world
Authors: Floyd, Samantha
Advisors: Goldberg, Adele E
Contributors: Psychology Department
Keywords: cognitive linguistics
Subjects: Language
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Words commonly refer to multiple meanings, a phenomenon known as polysemy: caps can appear on bottles, human heads, or mushrooms; green can refer to a color or an environmental stance; a sheet can be in a notebook or on a bed. Polysemy presents a challenge to many theories of meaning and learning, which posit individual meanings and competition between candidate referents. As a result, many open questions remain about how polysemous meanings are learned and represented. In this dissertation*, I address these fundamental issues from a number of angles, using behavioral, developmental, clinical, and computational methods. I first review existing approaches to word meaning and representation (Chapter 2). I then investigate how children and adults uncover and learn the rich, hidden conceptual structure of meanings using novel learning tasks (Chapter 3) and eye- tracking (Chapter 4). In Chapter 5 I investigate variation in generalization by considering a neurodiverse population. In Chapter 6, I develop and evaluate theories of word generalization in quantifiably-testable computational models. Finally, in Chapter 7 I outline a new approach to understanding word learning.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Psychology

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