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Words in discourse: a dialectical approach to the acquisition of meaning and use

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 September 2008

Elena Levy*
Affiliation:
University of Connecticut and Haskins Laboratories
Katherine Nelson
Affiliation:
City University of New York Graduate Center
*
[*] Department of Psychology, University of Connecticut at Stamford, Scofieldtown Road, Stamford CT 06903, USA.

Abstract

Word learning by young children is viewed as a problem of deriving meaning from the use of forms in discourse contexts. Uses of causal and temporal terms in private speech by a child studied longitudinally from 1;9 to 3;0 are analysed from this perspective. Evidence is presented that words are first constrained to uses in specific discourse contexts, and later used more flexibly and with greater control over the semantics of the terms. Derivation of meaning from discourse is described as a dialectical process, and as such it is claimed to be more consistent with the full range of observational data, and with theories of word learning applicable to older children and adults, than other current theories of lexical acquisition in early childhood.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1994

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References

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