ERIC Number: EJ823315
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2003-Oct
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
Adjective Definitions and the Influence of Word Frequency
Marinellie, Sally A.; Johnson, Cynthia J.
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, v46 n5 p1061-1076 Oct 2003
The present investigation is a study of the development of adjective definitions given by participants in Grades 6 and 10 and by young adults, as well as the influence of word frequency on those definitions. A total of 150 participants (50 per age group) wrote definitions for 6 high-frequency and 6 low-frequency adjectives. Adjective definitions were analyzed for use of semantic content and also grammatical form. Findings indicated that content of adjective definitions generally followed a developmental course from concrete and functional to more abstract. Response patterns of certain categories, such as superordinate, have implications for organization of the mental lexicon and suggest that adjective definitions may be less predictable than definitions of other grammatical categories, such as noun. Although conventional syntactic form was highly used in definitions (i.e., adjectival form for a definition of an adjective), verb form was also highly used. Conventional form may be less useful to characterize adjective definitions than other grammatical classes. Findings suggest that word frequency has a robust influence on adjective definitions and that development progresses differently for high- and low-frequency words.
Descriptors: Semantics, Form Classes (Languages), Grammar, Definitions, Young Adults, Grade 6, Word Frequency, Grade 10, Patterned Responses, Verbs
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Grade 10; Grade 6
Authoring Institution: N/A