Saygin, A.P. (2011). A computational analysis of interaction patterns in the acquisition of Turkish. Research on Language and Computation. In press.
We provide a corpus-based computational approach to acquisition data on Turkish, a richly inflected language. We describe the process by which transcripts from the CHILDES database for 16 children aged 2;0 to 3;0 were morphologically tagged and parsed. We then computed a number of imitation, overlap, and repetition measures on the transcripts using CLAN and CHIP programs. These measures tended to decrease as a function of mean length of utterance, which was broadly consistent with previously published work on English-speaking children. The data also revealed additional usage patterns, where the adult utterances provided children with rich morphosyntax in the input, while at the same time helping them to maintain discourse. Children on the other hand, tended to omit optional constituents and repeat morphemes from the previous utterance. Differences between the Turkish data and previously published English data showed cross-linguistic differences in repetition patterns that were congruent with the typological differences between the two languages. More generally, the data were consistent with a usage-based model for the acquisition of Turkish as a first language. The corpora and methods provided here can be extended to future applications.