Are Nouns Easier to Learn Than Verbs? Three Experimental Studies

Jane B. Childers and Michael Tomasello

in Action Meets Word

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780195170009
Published online April 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199893300 | DOI:
Are Nouns Easier to Learn Than Verbs? Three Experimental Studies

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A current controversy in the study of word learning is whether it is conceptually easier to learn nouns as compared to verbs early in development. This chapter describes three experiments which address the noun-verb question in different ways. In the first experiment, researchers asked how many times (and on how many days) does a 2-year-old need to hear a word to be able to learn it, and does this differ for nouns and verbs? This second study investigates whether — when nouns and verbs are presented in comparable sentence contexts, controlling the number of exposures, and presenting a dynamic event in both the noun and verb conditions — nouns are easier to learn than are verbs. In Study 3, researchers compared children's ability to learn intransitive and transitive verbs and their ability to understand verbs for self-action as opposed to other action, to determine whether some of these verb and referent types are learned more quickly than are others.

Keywords: nouns; word learning; verbs

Chapter.  11336 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Developmental Psychology

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