DEC Colloquium

Building a lexicon: How toddlers acquire the meanings of verbs

Sudha Arunachalam
Practical information
13 May 2014

Salle 235A

Acquiring word meanings is a critical task of early childhood, which toddlers solve by bringing to bear their conceptual, linguistic, and social skills. For some kinds of words, in particular verbs, which will be the focus of this talk, linguistic skills play a critical role, because the meanings of verbs can be partially inferred from the sentence contexts in which the verbs appear (e.g., Gleitman, 1990). I will present several experimental studies investigating toddlers' abilities to use linguistic context--in combination with conceptual and social understanding--in the service of verb learning, and probing the nature and depth of the verb meanings toddlers posit. I will focus on typical development, but will also present some data from children with autism spectrum disorder.