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I am a Machine Learning researcher who is doing research in the Natural Language Processing (NLP).

I need better understanding about human language for my new research, so I decided to write this question on this forum.

In general, people process texts in English or in any other human languages at different levels. For example, for a person who is learning English for the first time can only process English texts at an elementary level (processing simple grammar, vocabulary, and semantics), whereas an adult native English speakers can process English texts at a more "advanced" level (processing advanced grammar, vocabulary, and in-depth understandings on semantics of a large, technical texts).

Is there a theory in Linguistics that outlines the relationship between the level of language used in a part of a text and the level of semantical understandings that is required to comprehend the same part of the text? For example, suppose that we are trying to solve some cloze task problems where we are asked to fill in the blanks with appropriate nouns, verbs, adjectives, phrases, etc., for a given text. For the given problem text, would cloze task questions that aim specifically for elementary English speakers require lower level of understandings on the context of the problem text than cloze task questions that was designed to test English skills at more advanced level?

The answer can be something very obvious, but if someone can provide me the answer with reference to appropriate linguistic theory, it will be a great help, as I need a linguistic theory to back up my claims in my paper.

Thank you,

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  • It sounds like you're looking for Interlanguage theory. It's more oriented towards pedagogy than machine interpretation, however.
    – jlawler
    Nov 14 '19 at 15:57
  • @jlawler Hello, thank you very much for your comment. I googled the Interlanguage Theory and read a few article, but I can't quite relate how the theory can be used to show that "understanding a part of a text that utilizes advanced features of a language requires advanced level of understanding on the overall context". Does Interlanguage Theory imply what I am trying to claim? Thank you,
    – HDB
    Nov 14 '19 at 16:35
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    Perhaps not; there are no "advanced features" of languages. There are some language learners who are better than others, and some language learners who are more advanced in their learning than others. But language features themselves are not "advanced" in any sense, except the order in which they're learned, which varies greatly individually. There is no standard "level" that marks features; everything depends on the two or more languages involved, the learner's individual history of language use and learning, and the purposes and context of the learning.
    – jlawler
    Nov 14 '19 at 17:30
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    @jlawler Hello, thank you again for your comments. But when we look at the test prep book series for common English test, the book series are often categorized as "for beginners", "intermediate", and "advanced". By saying "advanced English", I meant the materials that are commonly covered in an advanced English book or class (similarly, we can define "intermediate English", or "Elementary English"). And this doesn't have to be for ESL learners only. Compare the level of English used by a child and an adult, for instance.
    – HDB
    Nov 14 '19 at 17:54
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    @jlawler We can consider the child's English to be elementary, whereas we can consider the English of the adult as being more "advanced". Is there a theory that can be used to show that "understanding a part of a text that utilizes higher-level language ("advanced(?) language") requires advanced level of understanding on the overall context"? Thank you,
    – HDB
    Nov 14 '19 at 17:55

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