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Early vocabulary development in Danish and other languages: A CDI-based comparison



The main objective of this paper is to describe the trajectory of Danish children's early lexical development relative to other languages, by comparing a Danish study based on the Danish adaptation of The MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories (CDI) to 17 comparable CDI-studies. The second objective is to address the feasibility of cross-linguistic CDI-comparisons. The main finding is that the developmental trend of Danish children's early lexical development is similar to trends observed in other languages, yet the vocabulary comprehension score in the Danish children is the lowest across studies from age 1 ; 0 onwards. We hypothesize that the delay is related to the nature of Danish sound structure, which presents Danish children with a harder task of segmentation. We conclude that CDI-studies are an important resource for cross-language studies, but reporting of studies needs to be standardized and the availability of published data improved in order to make comparisons more straightforward.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Dorthe Bleses, Center for Child Language, Institute of Language and Communication, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark. Email: Fax: +45 6550 3180.


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We thank Larry Fenson and colleagues for permission to adapt the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories to Danish. The data for the cross-sectional study presented in this paper were collected as part of a research project, ‘Danish children's language acquisition’ (2002–2005), funded by the Carlsberg Foundation and the University of Southern Denmark. Part of the data collection was funded by the Oticon Foundation. We also wish to thank the student assistants and all of the other people who have contributed to data collection and data entry. We also wish to thank all of the parents of the participating children who have completed CDI-parental reports for our studies. Finally, we want to express our thanks to Eva Sophia Myers, Rune N. Jørgensen, Kasper Østerholdt Jensen and Penny Kristiansen for their assistance in the preparation of this paper.



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