Lexical and semantic development

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  • Lexical and semantic development
    • How fast do children acquire vocabulary?
      • The averge child begins speaking at the end of its first year. By 18 months has a vocabulary of 50 words but understands 250 words. By the age of two, a child usually has a command of about 200 words. After this there is a remarkable explosion in a child's vocabulary and by the age of five a child is using roughly 2000 words and double that amount by the age of 7. At all of  these stages however, the amount of words that are actually understood is a lot higher than the words that are used. When a word is added to a child's vocabulary they do not know all of its functions and meanings and so needs time to develop their understandin of this.
    • Fist words: Studies have shown that there are predictable patterns in the words and types of words first acquired by children.
      • Entities: this is a belonging or an object. e.g. Food - drink, juice, milk, water, toast. Clothes-,shoes, hat, jumper. These words are often used when a child is wanting something.
      • Properties: This is when a child is trying to get across an object or food's state. For example, a child may say "all gone" to imply that the property of her food is "empty". They may also say "dirty" to imply that the property of her clothing or bottle etc needs cleaning.
      • Actions: This is used when a child is telling someone what to do or what she wants to do. For example, a child may say "go" to indicate they want somebody to leave. Or "eat" if they want to tell somebody that they are hungry.
      • Social: These are often opinion or greetings. For example "hello" and "bye", or "yes" and "no". These are used when being social, hence the name.
    • Nouns make up the largest class of words, more concrete than abstract as often all a child refers to is something they want, an object. The first verbs a child starts to use are also to do with what they want such as "go" or "eat". Words such as "the", "of" and "to" are absent. This can be because the child is not developed enough to string together a sentence.
    • Underextension is a common semantic error made by children. It occurs when a word is given a narrower meaning that it has in adult language. An example would be using "cat" for the family pet, but not for other cats as they dont recognise that it is also a cat.
    • Overextension is the opposite of underextension. This occurs when a word is given a broader and more general meaning than it should have. An example would be saying "daddy" for every male because that is what you call the male in your house. Or calling all four-legged animals "dog". This occurs more frequently than underextension and is the main semantic error made by young children. A third of a childs 50 word vocabulary are said to be overextensions.
    • Labelling, packing and network building.
      • Labelling is the first stage and involves making the link between the sounds of words and the object itself. for example understanding that "mummy" refers to the childs mother.
      • Packaging entails  understanding a words range of meaning. Underextension and overextension occur before this stage is successfully negotiated.
      • Network building involves grasping the connections between words: understanding that some words are opposite in meaning. for example, understanding the relationship between hypernyms and hyponyms.


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