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Academic Paper

Title: Children's preference for HAS and LOCATED relations: A word learning bias for noun–noun compounds
Author: Andrea Krott
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: University of Birmingham
Author: Christina L. Gagne
Institution: University of Western Ontario
Author: Elena Nicoladis
Institution: University of Alberta
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition
Abstract: The present study investigates children's bias when interpreting novel noun–noun compounds (e.g. kig donka) that refer to combinations of novel objects (kig and donka). More specifically, it investigates children's understanding of modifier–head relations of the compounds and their preference for HAS or LOCATED relations (e.g. a donka that HAS a kig or a donka that is LOCATED near a kig) rather than a FOR relation (e.g. a donka that is used FOR kigs). In a forced-choice paradigm, two- and three-year-olds preferred interpretations with HAS/LOCATED relations, while five-year-olds and adults showed no preference for either interpretation. We discuss possible explanations for this preference and its relation to another word learning bias that is based on perceptual features of the referent objects, i.e. the shape bias. We argue that children initially focus on a perceptual stability rather than a pure conceptual stability when interpreting the meaning of nouns.


This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 37, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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