Input That Contradicts Young Children's Strategy for Mapping Novel Words Affects Their Phonological and Semantic

Jarvis, Lorna Hernandez; Merriman, William E.; Barnett, Michelle; Hanba, Jessica; Van Haitsma, Kylee S.
April 2004
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Apr2004, Vol. 47 Issue 2, p392
Academic Journal
Children tend to choose an entity they cannot already label, rather than one they can, as the likely referent of a novel noun. The effect of input that contradicts this strategy on the interpretation of other novel nouns was investigated. In pre- and posttests, 4-year-olds were asked to judge whether novel nouns referred to "name-similar" familiar objects or novel objects (e.g., whether japple referred to an apple or a binder clip). During an intervening treatment phase, they were asked to pick the referents of novel nouns from pairs of familiar objects (Experiments 1 and 3) or were taught subordinate names for familiar objects (Experiment 2). Most resisted the lure of phonological similarity in the pretest but increased selection of name-similar familiar objects over novel ones in the posttest. In Experiment 3, which involved monosyllables that differed in initial phoneme from the familiar words, treatment produced this effect only when accompanied by a rhyme-sensitization procedure. Experiment 2 included two other age groups: 2-year-olds, who were less resistant to phonological similarity in the pretest and responded to the treatment like the 4-year-olds; and adults, who nearly always selected the novel objects in the pretest and posttest. For children, the impact of treatment was positively associated with ability to detect phonological similarity and negatively associated with vocabulary size.


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