Assessing the impact of frequency and local adaptation mechanisms on child-caregiver language: a recurrence-quantificational approach
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The degree to which the prevalence of words and syntactic structures in child-caregiver language is influenced by (1) their frequency in the other interlocutor's speech and (2) their involvement in local adaptation processes is investigated. Utilizing the relatively novel technique of recurrence-quantificational analysis, quantitative measures are constructed in order to tease apart and independently measure the impact of these two factors. Three corpora from the CHILDES database reveal that within both child and caregiver speech, the frequency of most words and syntactic structures is more strongly determined by their frequency in the other interlocutor's speech. However, this changes when considering only high-frequency words and structures, where local adaption mechanisms appear to exert a stronger influence on usage. Across corpora and interlocutors, there is both variance and remarkable homogeneity in how usage is affected.