WORD LEARNING IN CATEGORIZATION AND INDIVIDUATION

Project Details

Description

The goal of the proposed research is to investigate the link between
language learning, on the one hand, and the ability to categorize and
individuate objects on the other. For adults, conceptual
representations of object kinds are lexicalized as count nouns. These
representations provide criteria for categorization and individuation.
Some have proposed that children are aided in the process of lexical
acquisition by linguistic constraints that limit the possible meanings
they consider when they hear a novel label. In particular, it has been
suggested that when children hear a label applied to an object, they
assume it refers to that object and others of the same kind (e.g.,
Markman, 1989; Waxman, 1994). Alternatively, labels may facilitate
categorization and individuation by simply increasing infants attention
to all perceptual object features, with specific relations between count
nouns and object kinds being learned through experience with language.
The proposed experiments examine whether labeling facilitates infant's
ability to categorize and individuate objects. Further, they address
the issue of whether labeling is specifically linked to object kind
concepts early in lexical acquisition or whether it mediates attention
to a range of perceptual properties. These experiments will shed light
on the early development of the processes that underlie the acquisition
both of language and conceptual knowledge.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date3/4/988/31/98

Funding

  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

ASJC

  • Language and Linguistics

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