Journal article

Chaining and the growth of linguistic categories

Amir Ahmad Habibi, Charles Kemp, Yang Xu

Cognition | ELSEVIER | Published : 2020


We explore how linguistic categories extend over time as novel items are assigned to existing categories. As a case study we consider how Chinese numeral classifiers were extended to emerging nouns over the past half century. Numeral classifiers are common in East and Southeast Asian languages, and are prominent in the cognitive linguistics literature as examples of radial categories. Each member of a radial category is linked to a central prototype, and this view of categorization therefore contrasts with exemplar-based accounts that deny the existence of category prototypes. We explore these competing views by evaluating computational models of category growth that draw on existing psychol..

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Funding Acknowledgements

We thank Luis Morgado da Costa for sharing the classifier dataset, and three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on the manuscript. This work is supported by an NSERC Discovery Grant, a SSHRC Insight Grant, and a Connaught New Researcher Award to YX.