Lexical Innovations

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  • Lexical innovations are words a speaker coins that are not conventional in that speaker's language. For example, a preschooler coined the word ungravified in the context of a conversation about astronauts returning from space. A different preschooler explained to his parent that a toy operates by means of batterycation. Children's use of lexical innovations provides evidence that they have some knowledge of word-formation processes in their language. Innovations are assumed to reveal productive, general knowledge of these processes (as contrasted with rote learning of individual words) because the children have not heard those usages previously. Lexical innovations reflect knowledge of such word-formation processes as compounding, conversion, and affixation. They also demonstrate children's developing concepts of the internal structure of words. Researchers investigate children's spontaneous and ...

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