ERIC Number: ED338056
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990-Jul
Reference Count: N/A
Do Young Children Linguistically Encode the Notion of Agent?
The claim that children's early word combinations are best described in terms of semantic categories such as agent, rather than abstract categories such as subject, rests on the assumption that 2-year-olds have a notion of agency that acts as a springboard for knowledge of more formal categories. The literature of developmental psychology suggests that by the onset of first word combinations, the concept of agentivity develops only gradually with distinctions made in understanding of "self" and "other" as agent over the first years of life. Review of child language studies suggests that English-speaking children give special linguistic treatment to a subcategory of agency, namely "self as agent," and talk about others as "actors." These findings indicate a need to examine more closely the child's notion of person. Issues needing to be addressed in future research on the role of agency in early child language include the role of speaker perspective, sociocultural factors influencing views of agency, and a methodology for assessing children's early notions of agency. (MSE)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Semantic Bootstrapping Hypothesis (Pinker)
Note: In: Papers and Reports on Child Language Development, Number Twenty-nine. California, Stanford University, 1990. p133-140.