Children extend both words and non-verbal actions to novel exemplars

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Markson and Bloom (1997) found that some learning processes involved in children's acquisition of a new word are also involved in their acquisition of a new fact. They argued that these findings provided evidence against a domain-specific system for word learning. However, Waxman and Booth (2000) found that whereas children quite readily extend newly learned words to novel exemplars within a category, they do not do this with newly learned facts. They therefore argued that because children did not extend some facts in a principled way, word learning and fact learning may result from different domain-specific processes. In the current study, we argue that facts are a poor comparison in this argument since facts vary in whether they are tied to particular individuals. A more appropriate comparison is a conventional non-verbal action on an object - 'what we do with things like this' - since they are routinely generalized categorically to new objects. Our study shows that 2 1/2-year-old children extend novel non-verbal actions to new objects in the same way that they extend novel words to new objects. The findings provide support for the view that word learning represents a unique configuration of more general learning processes.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Childers, JB; Tomasello, M

Published Date

  • April 1, 2003

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 6 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 185 - 190

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1363-755X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/1467-7687.00270

Citation Source

  • Scopus