ERIC Number: ED196301
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1978-Aug
What Looks Like a Jiggy but Acts like a Zimbo?: A Study of Early Word Meaning Using Artificial Objects. Papers and Reports on Child Language Development, Number 15.
A major concern in recent research is whether perceptual or functional information is of primary importance in children's early word meanings. In the study described here, artificial objects were used so that form and function could be independently manipulated. There were 57 subjects, ranging in age from 2.5 years to adulthood. The subjects were shown a "jiggy," a box with a face on it and a lever which manipulated the eyes and nose. They were shown a "zimbo," a gumball machine that projected jelly beans. The third object they were shown was a combination of the two, a box that looked like a "jiggy," but that functioned like a "zimbo." When asked what to name the hybrid machine, younger and older children responded on the basis of form; children of middle years responded on the basis of function. The children who named the hybrid object on the basis of its form had learned the name of the "zimbo" faster, and they liked that machine better. However, it appears that the content of the word meaning, and the basis for applying the word to new instances, is initially perceptual information. It seems, therefore, that children implicitly based their word meanings on well-understood conceptual structures and that knowledge of form is the conceptual system that children understand earliest and therefore rely on in their early word meanings. (AMH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Stanford Univ., CA. Dept. of Linguistics.
Note: Paper presented at the Stanford Child Language Research Forum (10th, Stanford, CA, April 1978).