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Academic Paper


Title: Developing spatial localization abilities and children's interpretation of where
Author: Elena Nicoladis
Institution: University of Alberta
Author: Edward H. Cornell
Institution: University of Alberta
Author: Melissa Gates
Institution: University of Alberta
Linguistic Field: Psycholinguistics; Semantics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: Two-year-old children often start asking questions with 'where'. In this study we test whether children understand 'where' to mean route or absolute location and whether the size of the space or elevation made a difference. Previous research has documented developmental changes over the preschool years in children's non-verbal spatial reasoning. Forty-eight children between two and five years of age were interviewed. We asked them to point in response to 'where' questions about an object, rooms on the same floor and on a different floor. All children pointed to the location of the hidden objects. The youngest children pointed to the route to rooms while the oldest children were more likely to point to the location of rooms. With age, the children gradually used more spatial location terms than deictic terms in response to where. These results suggest that children's meaning of 'where' initially differs for different sized spaces and developmental changes reflect non-verbal cognition.

CUP at LINGUIST

This article appears in Journal of Child Language Vol. 35, Issue 2, which you can read on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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