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Monolingual and bilingual children's use of the mutual exclusivity constraint

  • DENISE DAVIDSON (a1), DIANA JERGOVIC (a1), ZUBIA IMAMI (a1) and VIOLET THEODOS (a1)

Abstract

The use of the mutual exclusivity constraint was examined in three-year-old and six-year-old children who were either monolingual in English (N=32) or bilingual in English/Urdu (N=32) or in English/Greek (N=32). Three tests of the constraint were used: disambiguation, rejection, and restriction. On the disambiguation test, the mutual exclusivity bias was significantly more evident in five- and six-year-old monolingual children than in their same-age bilingual peers. Monolingual children were also more likely than bilingual children to reject a new name for a familiar object. However, using a restriction test, neither monolingual nor bilingual children readily accepted and restricted typical names for hybrid objects. Developmental differences were also found, as older (five- to six-year-old) monolingual children's responses on the tests were generally more consistent with the constraint than younger (three- to four-year-old) children's responses. Nevertheless, bilingual children did use the constraint, but not to the extent of monolingual children.

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Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Denise Davidson, Department of Psychology, Loyola University Chicago, 6525 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60626, USA (e-mail: ddavids@luc.edu).

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This research was funded by grants from the United States Department of Education (P202A20081) and from the Spencer Foundation. The work itself and the conclusions reached are solely the responsibility of the investigators. Portions of this research were presented at the American Psychological Society Meeting, June 1993, Chicago, IL. We thank Lisa Lorick, Raabia Mustafa, Mary Tzotzolis, and Bobbie Viegas for their aid in data collection and coding. We also thank the children, parents, and staff at the following daycares and schools: Children's Campus, Muslim Educational Center, Rogers Park Children's Learning School, and St Andrew's Greek Orthodox School.

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Monolingual and bilingual children's use of the mutual exclusivity constraint

  • DENISE DAVIDSON (a1), DIANA JERGOVIC (a1), ZUBIA IMAMI (a1) and VIOLET THEODOS (a1)

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