The limits of infants’ early word learning

Taxitari, Loukia and Twomey, Katherine and Westermann, Gert and Mani, Nivedita (2020) The limits of infants’ early word learning. Language Learning and Development, 16 (1). pp. 1-21. ISSN 1547-5441

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In this series of experiments, we tested the limits of young infants’ word learning and generalization abilities in light of recent findings reporting sophisticated word learning abilities in the first year of life. Ten-month-old infants were trained with two word-object pairs and tested with either the same or different members of the corresponding categories. In Experiment 1, infants showed successful learning of the word-object associations, when trained and tested with a single exemplar from each category. In Experiment 2, infants were presented with multiple within-category items during training but failed to learn the word-object associations. In Experiment 3, infants were presented with a single exemplar from each category during training, and failed to generalize words to a new category exemplar. However, when infants were trained with items from perceptually and conceptually distinct categories in Experiment 4, they showed weak evidence for generalization of words to novel members of the corresponding categories. It is suggested that word learning in the first year begins as the formation of simple associations between words and objects that become enriched as experience with objects, words and categories accumulates across development.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Language Learning and Development
Additional Information:
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Language Learning and Development on 01/10/2019, available online:
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? linguistics and languageeducationlanguage and linguistics ??
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Deposited On:
02 Sep 2019 08:45
Last Modified:
31 Dec 2023 01:07