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The Hebrew Communicative Development Inventory: language specific properties and cross-linguistic generalizations

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 February 2000

University of Haifa
Tel Aviv University University of Texas at Dallas
University of Haifa
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development


Cultural, linguistic, and developmental evidence was taken into consideration in constructing the HCDI, a Hebrew adaptation of the MCDI. The HCDI was then administered to a stratified sample of Israeli mothers of 253 toddlers aged 1; 6 to 2; 0 (M = 1; 8·18). Hebrew results are presented and compared with scores from the original MCDI sample (Fenson, Dale, Reznick, Bates, Thal & Pethick, 1994). The HCDI is a reliable and sensitive measure of lexical development and emergent grammar, capturing wide variability among Israeli toddlers. In comparison with English, the relation between vocabulary size and age, as well as the shape of the growth curves for nouns, predicate terms, and closed class words relative to size of lexicon, were strikingly similar. These results indicate that conclusions concerning cross-linguistic similarities can be best documented by using parallel methods of measurement. The HCDI results support the claim that early lexical development in Hebrew and in English follow remarkably similar development patterns, despite the typological differences between the two target languages.

Research Article
© 2000 Cambridge University Press

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An earlier version of this paper was presented at the meetings of the Society for Research in Child Development, Washington, DC, April, 1997. We thank Larry Fenson for permission to adapt the CDI to Hebrew and for providing original data from the American MCDI study for use in the cross-linguistic comparisons. Work on a Hebrew language inventory was initiated as part of a cross-cultural study of mother–child interaction and cognitive development sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, directed by the fourth author. Further funding was provided through a grant to the first author from the University of Haifa, Faculty of Education research fund. The HCDI norming data were gathered as part of the longitudinal Early Child Care Project conducted at the University of Haifa, Center for the Study of Child Development, and funded by a grant to the third author from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (RO1) #HD25975. Space does not permit a full listing of all the people and organizations that participated at various phases of the project. We especially thank Nina Koren-Karie and Tirtsa Joels from the University of Haifa, and Dorit Shalom from Tel Aviv University who actively contributed to the preparation of the HCDI vocabulary list as well as Moti Gini, Yair Ziv, and Sandra Zukerman, and the organizations: Emuna, NA'AMAT, and WIZO.