ERIC Number: ED216512
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Mar
Reference Count: 0
Definitions: The Conventionalization of Word Meaning.
This discussion argues that the development of children's definitions is shaped by a particular orientation to word meaning characteristic of literate language use. This orientation is marked by increased attention to the linguistic form of expressions. To test this argument, a study was undertaken in which eight common nouns, familiar to most preschool children, were used to elicit definitions from children. Results indicate that children's attention to the linguistic form of the definitional question influences the structure of their definition. When the form is emphasized, a greater number of superordinate terms are elicited. Children also begin marking attention to the response form implied by the question--a noun phrase complement--prior to using the true superordinate terms. These nominal phrase markers appear to serve as a placeholder or bridge leading from the early functional responses of the preschooler to the conventional superordinate category definition typical of our literate culture, exemplified in the dictionary definition. Children's early definitions reflect the oral contexts of acquisition but with schooling and literacy gradually become close approximations of the archival definitional form prevalent in literate culture. (Author/JK)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Ontario Inst. for Studies in Education, Toronto.
Identifiers: Linguistic Form; Metalinguistic Awareness; Questions
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (New York, NY, March 19-23, 1982).