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Academic Paper

Title: Four- and six-year-olds use pragmatic competence to guide word learning
Author: Maria D Vázquez
Institution: Vanderbilt University
Author: Sarah S. Delisle
Institution: Vanderbilt University
Author: Megan M. Saylor
Institution: Vanderbilt University
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Pragmatics
Abstract: The present study investigates whether four- and six-year-old children use pragmatic competence as a criterion for learning from someone else. Specifically, we ask whether children use others' adherence to Gricean maxims to determine whether they will offer valid labels for novel objects. Six-year-olds recognized adherence to the maxims of quality and relation and subsequently trusted the labels provided by a maxim adherer. Four-year-olds displayed this pattern when judging adherence to quality but not relation. A linear regression revealed that children's ability to identify maxim adherers predicted their ability to choose the correct object during word-learning trials. This research demonstrates that children use others' pragmatic history when judging the reliability of the information they offer.


This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 40, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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