Conceptual Foundations of Early Word Learning

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  • Infants begin to understand language in the second 6 months of life. Although language learning takes place in social contexts, the conceptual meanings that enable such learning to begin occur both with and without the presence of others. The conceptual foundations for language in the first year of life are based on what has been called Perceptual Meaning Analysis, which describes the conceptual primitives most likely to underlie cognitive thought. In recent years, researchers have found that infants comprehend more about the world than developmental psychologists used to assume. For example, long before their motor systems are coordinated enough to retrieve an object from various hiding locations, infants watch such events and learn to anticipate what happens. By 3 months, they can make conceptual inferences, ...

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