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ERIC Number: EJ925603
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Jun
Pages: 28
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0010-0285
Judging a "Book" by Its Cover and Its Contents: The Representation of Polysemous and Homophonous Meanings in Four-Year-Old Children
Srinivasan, Mahesh; Snedeker, Jesse
Cognitive Psychology, v62 n4 p245-272 Jun 2011
Unlike "homophonous" meanings, which are semantically unrelated (e.g., the use of "bat" to refer to a baseball bat and a flying rodent), "polysemous" meanings are systematically related to one another (e.g., the use of "book", "CD", and "video" to refer to physical objects, as in "the leather book", or to the intellectual content they contain, as in "the profound book"). But do perceived relations among polysemous meanings reflect the presence of generative lexical or conceptual structures that permit the meanings of these words to shift? If so, these structures may also support children's early representations of polysemous meanings. In four studies, we demonstrate (1) that four-year-old children can understand both the concrete and abstract meanings of words like "book," (2) that when taught a novel label for one of these meanings, children can readily understand an extension of that label to the other meaning, and (3) that extension does not occur between two homophonous meanings, which share a common phonological form but are otherwise unrelated. We conclude that the polysemous meanings of words like "book" rely on a common representational base early in development, and suggest that this may be the result of foundational, generative properties of the lexicon or conceptual system. (Contains 10 figures and 5 tables.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Preschool Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A