Automatic Measurement of Syntactic Development in Child Language

To facilitate the use of syntactic information in the study of child language acquisition, a coding scheme for Grammatical Relations (GRs) in transcripts of parent-child dialogs has been proposed by Sagae, MacWhinney and Lavie (2004). We discuss the use of current NLP techniques to produce the GRs in this annotation scheme. By using a statistical parser (Charniak, 2000) and memorybased learning tools for classification (Daelemans et al., 2004), we obtain high precision and recall of several GRs. We demonstrate the usefulness of this approach by performing automatic measurements of syntactic development with the Index of Productive Syntax (Scarborough, 1990) at similar levels to what child language researchers compute manually.

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