Quantifying Semantic Linguistic Maturity in Children

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We propose a method to quantify semantic linguistic maturity (SELMA) based on a high dimensional semantic representation ofwords created from the co-occurrence of words in a large text corpus. The method was applied to oral narratives from 108 children aged 4;0–12;10. By comparing the SELMA measure with maturity ratings made by human raters we found that SELMA predicted the rating of semantic maturity made by human raters over and above the prediction made using a child’s age and number of words produced. We conclude that the semantic content of narratives changes in a predictable pattern with children’s age and argue that SELMA is a measure quantifying semantic linguistic maturity. The study opens up the possibility of using quantitative measures for studying the development of semantic representation in children’s narratives, and emphasizes the importance of word co-occurrences for understanding the development of meaning.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Psychology


  • semantic development, semantic representation, narratives, semantic linguistic maturity, child language, psychology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1183–1199
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Psycholinguistic Research
Issue number5
Early online date2015 Oct 6
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Oct
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

First published online: 06 October 2015 The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Logopedics, Phoniatrics and Audiology (013020000), Department of Psychology (012010000), Cognitive Science (015001004), Linguistics and Phonetics (015010003)

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