The Development of a Linkage between Count Nouns and Object Categories: Evidence from Fifteen‐ to Twenty‐One‐Month‐Old Infants

Sandra R Waxman*, D. Geoffrey Hall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

93 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent research suggests that, although young children appreciate many different kinds of conceptual relations among objects, they focus specifically on taxonomic relations in the context of word learning. However, because the evidence for children's appreciation of this linkage between words and object categories has come primarily from children who have made substantial linguistic and conceptual advances, it offers limited information concerning the development of this linkage. In the experiments reported here, we employ a match‐to‐sample task to focus specifically on the development of an appreciation of the linkage between words (here, count nouns) and object categories in infants in the period just prior to and just subsequent to the naming explosion. The results demonstrate that, for 21‐month‐old infants, most of whom have recently entered the vocabulary explosion (Experiment 1), and for 16‐month‐old infants, most of whom have yet to commence the vocabulary explosion (Experiment 2), novel nouns focus attention on taxonomic relations among objects. This is important because it reveals a nascent appreciation of a linkage between words and object categories in infants who are at the very onset of language production. Results are interpreted within a developmental account of infants' emerging appreciation of a specific linkage between count nouns and object categories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1224-1241
Number of pages18
JournalChild Development
Volume64
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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