Australasian Mathematical Psychology Conference 2019

Semantic integration of novel words through syntagmatic and paradigmatic associations

Hyungwook Yim
Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne
Olivera Savic
Ohio State University
Layla Unger
Ohio State University
Vladimir M. Sloutsky
Ohio State University
Simon J. Dennis
University of Melbourne

We present a novel demonstration of how new words can be integrated into existing lexico-semantic networks based on syntagmatic (i.e., associations among words that co-occur in a context) and paradigmatic associations (i.e., associations among words that are interchangeable in a context). In the experiment, participants read sentences where familiar and novel words either directly co-occurred in a sentence or shared patterns of co-occurrence with another word. We observed that, immediately after reading the sentences, new words came to prime familiar words with which they co-occurred (syntagmatically related) or shared co-occurrence in sentences (paradigmatically related). The finding represents a novel demonstration that new words can be integrated into lexico-semantic networks from exposure to distributional regularities. By extending the model structure that was proposed by Sloutsky, Yim, Yao, & Dennis (2017), we provide a model that accounts for the experimental results.