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ERIC Number: EJ794589
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 15
Abstractor: Author
ISSN: ISSN-0009-3920
Compositionality and Statistics in Adjective Acquisition: 4-Year-Olds Interpret "Tall" and "Short" Based on the Size Distributions of Novel Noun Referents
Barner, David; Snedeker, Jesse
Child Development, v79 n3 p594-608 May-Jun 2008
Four experiments investigated 4-year-olds' understanding of adjective-noun compositionality and their sensitivity to statistics when interpreting scalar adjectives. In Experiments 1 and 2, children selected "tall" and "short" items from 9 novel objects called "pimwits" (1-9 in. in height) or from this array plus 4 taller or shorter distractor objects of the same kind. Changing the height distributions of the sets shifted children's "tall" and "short" judgments. However, when distractors differed in name and surface features from targets, in Experiment 3, judgments did not shift. In Experiment 4, dissimilar distractors did affect judgments when they received the same name as targets. It is concluded that 4-year-olds deploy a compositional semantics that is sensitive to statistics and mediated by linguistic labels.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Early Childhood Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A