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This content will become publicly available on January 1, 2023

Title: Children’s Acquisition of the Concept of Antonym Across Different Lexical Classes
Understanding abstract relations, and reasoning about various instantiations of the same relation, is an important marker in human cognition. Here we focus on development of understanding for the concept of antonymy. We examined whether four- and five-year-olds (N= 67) are able to complete an analogy task involving antonyms, whether language cues facilitate children’s ability to reason about the antonym relation, and how their performance compares with that of two vector-based computational models. We found that explicit relation labels in the form of a relation phrase (“opposites”) improved performance on the task for five-year-olds but not four-year-olds. Five-year-old (but not four-year-old) children were more accurate for adjective and verb antonyms than for noun antonyms. Two computational models showed substantial variability in performance across different lexical classes, and in some cases fell short of children’s accuracy levels. These results suggest that young children acquire a solid understanding of the abstract relation of opposites, and can generalize it to various instantiations across different lexical classes. These developmental results challenge relation models based on vector semantics, and highlight the importance of examining performance across different parts of speech.
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Proceedings of the 44th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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