ERIC Number: ED206186
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Apr-2
The Role of Attentional Priority of the Agent in the Acquisition of Word Reference.
Grace, Janet; Suci, George J.
A study is undertaken to determine whether the nonlinguistic priority of the agent of an action facilitates the comprehension of word reference. The subjects were twelve male and twelve female infants at the one word stage of language production. The children were presented with three nonsense names (presented as part of a narration of a filmed action event) to learn in habituation series. Each nonsense name was associated with a puppet. Findings indicate that action role has implications for learning to name objects. In general, the infants did dishabituate to all mismatches in all conditions and transferred their knowledge of the word-referent relationship from the film presentations to the actual objects involved. The perceptual strategy of giving priority to the agent is important in the acquisition of a word. Semantic concepts which are easier for the child to grasp may provide natural focal points for language acquisition. The data also suggest that participation in an action event increases a child's attention to a new word more than nonparticipation in an event. Specific attention directing strategies, such as giving attentional priority to the agent of the action, are critical aids to the acquisition of word-referent relationships. (Author/JK)
Descriptors: Attention Span, Case (Grammar), Child Language, Concept Formation, Context Clues, Discrimination Learning, Eye Fixations, Films, Infants, Language Acquisition, Language Processing, Nonverbal Learning, Parent Participation, Participation, Perceptual Development, Perceptual Motor Learning, Semantics, Verbal Development, Vocabulary Development
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (Boston, MA, April 2, 1981).