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      Sound symbolism facilitates early verb learning.

      1 , , ,
      Cognition
      Elsevier BV

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          Abstract

          Some words are sound-symbolic in that they involve a non-arbitrary relationship between sound and meaning. Here, we report that 25-month-old children are sensitive to cross-linguistically valid sound-symbolic matches in the domain of action and that this sound symbolism facilitates verb learning in young children. We constructed a set of novel sound-symbolic verbs whose sounds were judged to match certain actions better than others, as confirmed by adult Japanese- as well as English speakers, and by 2- and 3-year-old Japanese-speaking children. These sound-symbolic verbs, together with other novel non-sound-symbolic verbs, were used in a verb learning task with 3-year-old Japanese children. In line with the previous literature, 3-year-olds could not generalize the meaning of novel non-sound-symbolic verbs on the basis of the sameness of action. However, 3-year-olds could correctly generalize the meaning of novel sound-symbolic verbs. These results suggest that iconic scaffolding by means of sound symbolism plays an important role in early verb learning.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Cognition
          Cognition
          Elsevier BV
          0010-0277
          0010-0277
          Oct 2008
          : 109
          : 1
          Affiliations
          [1 ] Department of Environmental Information, Keio University at Shonan-Fujisawa, Endo, Fujisawa, Kanagawa, Japan. imai@sfc.keio.ac.jp
          Article
          S0010-0277(08)00180-7
          10.1016/j.cognition.2008.07.015
          18835600
          51b09fed-da26-49cd-b060-bbf0792be194
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