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The acquisition of word-meaning for dimensional adjectives: the long and short of it*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 September 2008

Rebecca E. Eilers
Affiliation:
Child Development and Mental Retardation Center, University of Washington, Seattle
D. Kimbrough Oller
Affiliation:
Child Development and Mental Retardation Center, University of Washington, Seattle
Judy Ellington
Affiliation:
Child Development and Mental Retardation Center, University of Washington, Seattle

Abstract

Two experiments tested the semantic feature hypothesis with children younger than those previously studied. Two predictions were considered: (1) that order of acquisition of dimensional adjective pairs corresponds with their order of semantic generality; (2) that at an early stage of development, the marked members of dimensional pairs are interpreted as having the meaning of the unmarked members. In general, both experiments supported prediction one but failed to support prediction two. In Experiment II, a possible confounding variable (non-semantic size preference) was examined. Two general conclusions were reached: (1) that it is difficult to rule out semantically irrelevant factors (size preference) from experiments investigating the learning of dimensional adjectives; and (2) that refinements of the semantic feature theory may be necessary to accommodate individual differences (which may be age dependent) in strategies for learning dimensional adjectives.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1974

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