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Cultural differences in the content of child talk: evaluative lexis of English monolingual and Spanish–English bilingual 30-month-olds

  • Martha SHIRO (a1), Erika HOFF (a2) and Krystal M. RIBOT (a3)

Abstract

We examined the size, content, and use of evaluative lexis by 26 English monolingual and 20 Spanish–English bilingual 30-month-old children in interaction with their mothers. We extracted the evaluative words, defined as words referring to cognition, volition, or emotion. Controlling for overall vocabulary skills as measured by the MacArthur-Bates inventories, monolinguals had a larger evaluative lexicon than the bilinguals’ Spanish evaluative lexicon, but no difference was found between monolinguals’ and bilinguals’ English evaluative lexicons. There were differences between the monolinguals and bilinguals in the distribution of evaluative words across semantic categories: English monolingual children used more words pertaining to volition and cognition and talked more about volition than the Spanish–English bilingual children. These results suggest that the development of evaluative lexicons is influenced by cultural differences, and consequently, bilingual children, who are also bicultural, follow a different developmental path in both languages from the path followed by their monolingual peers.

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*Corresponding author: 21200 NE 38th Ave. Apt. 2005, Miami, FL33180USA. Tel.: 1 212 9774828; E-mail: shiromartha@gmail.com

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Keywords

Cultural differences in the content of child talk: evaluative lexis of English monolingual and Spanish–English bilingual 30-month-olds

  • Martha SHIRO (a1), Erika HOFF (a2) and Krystal M. RIBOT (a3)

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