Different Kinds of Information Affect Word Learning in the Preschool Years: The Case of Part-Term Learning

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Abstract

Two studies investigated how preschool children's interpretations of novel words as names for parts of objects were affected by 3 kinds of information: (a) whole object familiarity, (b) whole part juxtaposition, and (c) syntactic information indicating possession. Study 1 tested 3- to 4-year-olds and found that although there was evidence that all information affected children's part-term interpretations to some extent, they were most systematic when provided with 2 or more kinds of information. Study 2 adapted the procedure for use with 2.5-year-olds and found the same general pattern of results. Variations across studies were found that may reflect changes in how different kinds of information affect word learning with development.

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