A mathematical insight into the size of infant vocabularies

Abstract

For the last twenty years, many researchers interested in language acquisition have quantified the receptive and productive vocabulary of infants using CDIs – checklists of words filled in by the caregiver. While it is generally accepted that the caregiver can reliably say whether the infant knows and/or produces a given word, we lack an estimate for words that are not listed on CDI. In this study, we provide a mathematical model providing a link between CDI reports and a more plausible estimate of vocabulary size. The model is constrained by statistical data collected from a population of infants and is validated on a longitudinal study comparing diary report with CDI measures.


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