ERIC Number: EJ850186
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Mar
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 36
Learning Words: Children Disregard Some Pragmatic Information that Conflicts with Mutual Exclusivity
Jaswal, Vikram K.; Hansen, Mikkel B.
Developmental Science, v9 n2 p158-165 Mar 2006
Children tend to infer that when a speaker uses a new label, the label refers to an unlabeled object rather than one they already know the label for. Does this inference reflect a default assumption that words are mutually exclusive? Or does it instead reflect the result of a pragmatic reasoning process about what the speaker intended? In two studies, we distinguish between these possibilities. Preschoolers watched as a speaker pointed toward (Study 1) or looked at (Study 2) a familiar object while requesting the referent for a new word (e.g. "Can you give me the blicket?"). In both studies, despite the speaker's unambiguous behavioral cue indicating an intent to refer to a familiar object, children inferred that the novel label referred to an unfamiliar object. These results suggest that children expect words to be mutually exclusive even when a speaker provides some kinds of pragmatic evidence to the contrary.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Preschool Education
Authoring Institution: N/A