Word-to-World Mapping

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  • The establishment of word-to-world mapping is a critical step in early word learning. This highly inductive process requires young children to identify the intended referent or meaning of a novel word, often among many possible candidates in the context. The young word learner must then establish a mapping between the word and meaning and determine the referential scope of the word. This necessitates distinguishing among different types of words and the different types of meanings that they encode. That is, children must learn to map nouns to objects, proper names to individuals, adjectives to properties, and verbs to events or relations. While this process is far from straightforward, young word learners have a large tool kit at their disposal to assist them during word learning.

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