Fast mapping between a phrasal form and meaning

Devin Casenhiser, Adele E. Goldberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

117 Scopus citations

Abstract

This is the first study to investigate experimentally how children come to learn mappings between novel phrasal forms and novel meanings: a central task in learning a language. Two experiments are reported. In both studies 5- to 7-year-old children watched a short set of video clips depicting objects appearing in various ways. Each scene was described using a novel verb embedded in a novel construction. Children who watched the videos and heard the accompanying description were able to match new descriptions that used the novel construction with new scenes of appearance. Moreover, our results suggest a facilitative effect for the disproportionately high frequency of occurrence of a single verb in a particular construction (such as has been found to exist in naturalistic input to children). While the fast mapping might be taken as an indication of innate knowledge that is specific to language, analogous effects in non-linguistic categorization tasks suggest that children are acquiring the new phrasal form with general cognitive skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)500-508
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental Science
Volume8
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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