Semantic Development

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Semantic Development is the acquisition of the meanings of words.

In order to acquire the meanings of words, children need:

  • trial and error
  • context
  • to be shown things

Childrens early word meanings sometimes differ from the adult meaning for the word. 

e.g. Child stomping on a spider 'I can't die this spider'

Child picks up shiny, cresent-shaped leaf 'Moon'


Overextensions are when a child uses a word for similar objects, extending the meaning in order to fill a gap in their vocabulary. The 'errors' are not copied from their parents, nor are they random.

An example of an overextension is…


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