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Academic Paper

Title: Determining that a label is kind-referring: factors that influence children's and adults' novel word extensions
Author: Medha Tare
Institution: University of Virginia
Author: Susan A Gelman
Institution: University of Michigan
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Semantics
Abstract: The present studies examined factors that influence children's and adults' interpretation of a novel word. Four factors are hypothesized to emphasize that a label refers to a richly structured category (also known as a ‘kind’): generic language, internal property attributions, familiar kind labels and absence of a target photograph. In Study 1, for college students (N=125), internal property attributions resulted in more taxonomic and fewer shape responses. In Study 2, for four-year-olds (N=126), the presence of generic language and familiar kind labels resulted in more taxonomic choices. Further, the presence of familiar kind labels resulted in fewer shape choices. The results suggest that, when learning new words, children and adults are sensitive to factors that imply kind reference.


This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 37, Issue 5, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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