The challenge of relational referents in early word extensions: Evidence from noun-noun compounds.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Authors

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Chester

Abstract

Young children struggle more with mapping novel words onto relational referents (e.g., verbs) compared to non-relational referents (e.g., nouns). We present further evidence for this notion by investigating children’s extensions of noun-noun compounds, which map onto combinations of non-relational referents, i.e. objects (e.g., baby and bottle for baby bottle), and relations (e.g., a bottle FOR babies). We tested two- to five-year-olds’ and adults’ generalisations of novel compounds composed of novel (e.g., kig donka) or familiar (e.g., star hat) nouns that were combined by one of two relations (e.g., donka that has a kig attached (=attachment relation) versus donka that stores a kig (=function relation)). Participants chose between a relational (shared relation) and a non-relational (same colour) match. Results showed a developmental shift from encoding non-relational aspects (colour) towards relations of compound referents, supporting the challenge of relational word referents. Also, attachment relations were more frequently encoded than function relations.

Details

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Child Language
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 7 Dec 2020

Keywords

  • noun-noun compound, compound nouns, relational word referents, relational shift