Word Learning Flashcards Preview

Child Language Development > Word Learning > Flashcards

Flashcards in Word Learning Deck (27)
Loading flashcards...


Sounds used consistently by children with consistent meaning but which bear no resemblance to conventional words

  Parent understands it, ritualized

  Can be gestures at first, then sounds plus gestures, then just sounds

  Not referential, but interactional (word must “stand for” the referent, not just “go with” them)



Halliday's Four distinct acts of meaning

  Instrumental – request an object
  Regulatory – request an action
  Interactional – social context
  Personal – share interest


The mapping (“gavagai”) problem

What exactly is the word referring to?

  How large or small is the category?


Underextension Error

A child infers that a word belong to too small a group of things

  Context-specific words


Overextension Error

A child infers that a word belong to too large a group of things

  The property of this category is X, so everything that is X belongs in this category



Interested in building, knowing how things work, objects, discovering

  More interested in things

  Have more referential words at 50 words



Interested in reproducing adult social reality

  More interested in people

  Have more expressive words at 50 words


Why is there a word spurt at 50 words?

Nativist, Behaviorist, Constructivist Explanations


  Onset of the innate word-learning constraints


  All words are learned in parallel but some are easy to learn and others are hard.  Just statistical.


  Advances in the child’s understanding of the world and of the nature of words (and how they can be grouped into categories)



(Nativist) Word learning constraints

3 Terms

According to the lexical constraint theory, children are able to figure out the correct meaning of words because they are born with innate knowledge that allows them to constrain the space of the possible meanings of words.

Whole Object Assumption

Mutual Exclusivity Assumption

Taxonomic Assumption


Whole Object Assumption

Proposes that when children hear a word, they assume it refers to the whole word.


Mutual Exclusivity Assumption

Proposes that children assume that different words refer to different things.

  Objects and concepts have a single word to refer to them


Taxonomic Assumption

Proposes that children assume that words refer to thing that are of the same kind, and so are used to categorize things

  If a researcher used a name (“This is a sud.  Fund the other sud”) vs. a vague “Find something like this,” the kid points to another categorically related picture (another dog, for instance)


Behaviorist word learning constraints

The innate constraints could also be learned



Constructivist word learning constraints

Principle of conventionality

Principle of Contrast


Principle of conventionality

Words cannot be made up; they must be shared by the community

   (language is a set of mostly arbitrary conventions)


Principle of Contrast

Different words have different meanings


Study: Do children understand the conventionality of words?

Graham, Stock, and Henderson

  19 month olds
  Tells kids that they are looking through a box for a “mido”
  Picks something up, says “oh!”
  Kids subsequently identify that object as a mido, regardless of whether the same person asks them or not

  Suggests that kids know that words generalize across people


Composition of kid’s early vocabulary

(3 types and definitions)

   If the context is changed, the kid will not use the word anymore

   Referential, noun-like words
   Used flexibly, across situations

   Not a noun
   Used flexibly, across situations


How does a word become context-bound?

If it is only used in one way by the caregiver

A study showed that mothers did use the words out of the context that the kids use them, but most kids use the meaning most frequently used by the mother


Classical Conditioning

Unconditioned Stimulus
  Unconditioned Response
  Conditioned Stimulus
  Conditioned Response

  Dog – bell to salivation (presence of food)

  Bunny - tone to blink (eye air puff)



Word learning as classical conditioning

Hear the word cat to a mental representation of a cat (whether or not the cat is present)


Blocking in classical conditioning

The learned response inhibits other responses

  If a rabbit is trained first with a tone, can’t learn a new stimulus, such as a light flash


Social-pragmatic accounts of word learning

Word learning is born out of the child’s understanding of the world and other minds

Joint Attention

Common Ground


Joint Attention

Said to exist when two individuals are both attending to an object and when they are aware that the other is attending to it


Conversation as joint action

Language is used to get things done

  Involves many individual actions

  Ultimately a joint, collaborative action - cooperative


Study: Do children pay attention to joint attention and common ground?


   Experiment 1:
    12 month old played with two toys with an adult that left the room
    Child played with third toy with second adult
    When first adult returned, adult said, "wow, give me that!"
    Child handed object three

Child know from common ground that adult would not be excited about toy one and two

   Experiment 2:
    Same study, but just watched adult play with the two toys
    When they came back in, child would hand them anything

   Joint attention is necessary for common ground


Behaviorist view of word learning

Kids have a novelty bias

  They assume the other person is referring to something novel or something that stands out (to the kid)

  Don’t need any knowledge of other minds