Cross-Cultural Factors in Communicative Development

Elizabeth D. Peña

In: Encyclopedia of Language Development

Cross-Cultural Factors in Communicative Development

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  • Language learning takes place in a cultural context through interaction with adults and more advanced language users. Across cultural-linguistic groups, children learn the language of the community in very similar ways. Children first learn the sounds of the language and put sounds into words. In early development and throughout the life span, children (and adults) comprehend many more words than they express. Across languages that have very different structures and word order, children consistently appear to learn more nouns in early development compared to verbs. The noun-verb distribution, however, is moderated by the structure of the language children are learning.

    For example, children learning verb-friendly languages such as Japanese or Mandarin may learn more verbs in early acquisition than children learning noun-friendly languages such as English. ...

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