Precursors to Verb Learning: Infants' Understanding of Motion Events

Marianella Casasola, Jui Bhagwat and Kim T. Ferguson

in Action Meets Word

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780195170009
Published online April 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199893300 | DOI:
Precursors to Verb Learning: Infants' Understanding of Motion Events

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This chapter shows how particular relational meanings are formed independently of language, whereas others require linguistic input to develop. It argues that the contribution of nonlinguistic versus linguistic input in the formation of relational meanings varies not only with the concept in question but also with the developmental point at which the concept begins to develop. The chapter begins by reviewing the current literature on infants' understanding of motion events, demonstrating that young infants possess a rich understanding of various types of motion events. It then shows that infants' perceptual and cognitive abilities do not provide them with an understanding of all action events. Finally, it delineates a developmental progression for infants' understanding of motion events. Specifically, it demonstrates how developmental changes in infants' ability to form an abstract categorical representation of a dynamic spatial event follows a specific-to-abstract progression, and that language exerts its influence on infants' discrimination and categorization of particular motion events by modulating this progression.

Keywords: verb learning; motion events; linguistic input; categorization; relational meanings; language learning; language acquisition

Chapter.  11448 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Developmental Psychology

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