Effect of Objects Surrounding a Referent on Young Children’s Interpretation of Word Meanings

Takahiro Tamura

Abstract


This study examined the effect of objects surrounding a referent on young children's interpretation of word meanings. In Study 1, 50 children aged 5 years (28 females, 22 males; mean age: 5 years 8 months, SD: 2.37) took part in a novel label task wherein they were given a novel word for a target object with its surrounding object in two conditions, namely, high ordinariness (e.g., an elephant in a cage) or low ordinariness (e.g., an elephant riding in a car). The participants in both conditions tended to interpret the novel word as a name denoting the target object and its surrounding object. In Study 2, which used the same task, 50 children aged 5 years  (26 females, 24 males; mean age: 5 years 8 months, SD: 2.47) were given a novel word for a target object with its surrounding object in two conditions, namely high proximity (e.g., an elephant in a cage) or low proximity (e.g., an elephant near a tree). Participants in the high proximity condition tended to interpret the novel word as referring to a name that incorporated the target item and its surrounding object. In contrast, the participants in low proximity condition tended to interpret the novel word as referring to the name of the target object only (e.g., “elephant”). These results suggest that perceptual factors, such as the proximity of the referent and its surrounding objects, influence word learning in young children. The findings are discussed with respect to young children’s word learning in everyday life.

 

 


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11114/ijsss.v5i1.1994

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International Journal of Social Science Studies   ISSN 2324-8033 (Print)   ISSN 2324-8041 (Online)

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