Developmental Science

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Volume 8 Issue 5 (September 2005), Pages 387-458

Toddlers recognize verbs in novel situations and sentences (pages 424-431)


Toddlers’ (MA = 22 and 27 months) ability to extend newly taught verbs to new situational and sentential contexts was investigated. Children were interactively taught two novel verbs, presented in only the transitive frame (e.g. You’re lorping the ball), in a playroom setting. They then viewed the verb actions presented on side‐by‐side monitors and were asked to distinguish the verbs in three test frames (transitive, intransitive, neutral (e.g. lorping)). Both groups demonstrated learning of the verbs in the new situation and generalized the verbs to the intransitive sentence frame, but neither generalized reliably to the neutral frame. We conclude that even 22‐month‐olds demonstrate considerable context independence in their verb representations.

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