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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Commun. | doi: 10.3389/fcomm.2019.00066

Spatial Terms: The acquisition of multiple referential and syntactic mappings

  • 1Mills College, United States
  • 2University of Chicago, United States

The current study used a naturalistic, longitudinal design to investigate how children and parents use a set of early-acquired spatial terms (up, down, in, out, on, off). Measures included the frequency, referential contexts, syntactic frames, and referent-syntax pairings of these words from 14 to 30 months. Results showed that children’s earliest use of these terms related to parents’ referential use, but not to parent frequency of use. During the multi-word period, parent frequency of spatial term use was reflected in children’s frequency of use. Further, children’s most frequent referent-syntax pairings were predicted by these pairings in parents’ speech. The current results indicate that children may initially use referential cues in the acquisition of these terms, and later become sensitive to the relative frequencies of referent-syntax pairings for individual lexical items. This study demonstrates how children use regularities across multiple sources of information in the input during acquisition.

Keywords: language acquisition, Spatial cognition, parent input, syntax, language development

Received: 16 Jan 2019; Accepted: 30 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Shimpi Driscoll and Waterfall. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Priya Shimpi Driscoll, Mills College, Oakland, United States, pshimpi@mills.edu