Morphological development in italian: Connotation and denotation

Elizabeth Bates, Jane Rankin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Both longitudinal and experimental evidence were used in an examination of the development of adjectives vs. inflections for the expression of size and value concepts in Italian children. The longitudinal speech production records for two Italian children suggest that the concepts of size and value are understood and expressed linguistically by a years. One child acquired both adjectival and inflectional expressions for size simultaneously, while the other used adjectives for size and value several months prior to the acquisition of corresponding inflections. However, both children demonstrated productive use of size inflections at around MLU 3-0. A subsequent experiment with 84 children, ranging from 2 to 6 years, suggests that comprehension of size and value inflections is restricted to a narrow, denotative set of meanings based predominately on a strict interpretation in terms of size. This pattern stands in marked contrast to adult patterns on the same experiment, in which size inflections are interpreted connotatively as well, with meanings based on positive and negative affect as well as size. The relative contribution of connotative vs. denotative factors in the development of reference is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-52
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Child Language
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1979
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • General Psychology


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