Lexis and Semantics (CLA)

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  • The development of meaning: Lexis and Semantics
    • Meaning (Aitchison 1987)
      • Labelling: the process of attaching words to objects; as the child learns more about world their capacity to connect words with increasing range of objects grows
      • Packaging: by trying to ascertain boundaries of a label, child sometimes confuses hypernyms and hyponyms (see overextension)
      • Network Building: having labelled objects children start to identify connections between them, similarities and differences for instance.
    • Vocabulary
      • Productive vocabulary: by 18 months, child has PV of 50 words, the words that their muscular and motor development enables them to pronounce correctly
      • Receptive vocabulary: relates to the words a child recognises/understands but cannot verbally produce
    • Extension
      • Underextension is when ascribed meaning is narrower than meaning in adult language: for instance, 'apple' for 'fruit'. Hyponym for a hypernym.
      • Overextension is the widening of a word so that it applies not just to actual object but also to others with similar properties or functions, Leslie Rescorla (1980) defined these to three categories
        • Categorical overextension: confusing a hypernym (broad category) with a hyponym (specific example within that category), eg. 'fruit' for 'apple'
        • Analogical overextension: associating unrelated objects with one or more common. features, eg. seeing a red ball and then calling a red cushion a 'ball
        • Predicate overextension: conveying meaning relating to absence (eg. making utterance 'dog' when looking at a dog kennel)


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