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Academic Paper

Title: The role of within-language vocabulary size in children's semantic development: evidence from bilingual children
Author: Margaux Keith
Institution: University of Alberta
Author: Elena Nicoladis
Institution: University of Alberta
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Semantics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: This study tested whether bilingual children show a lag in semantic development (the schematic–categorical shift) relative to monolingual children due to smaller vocabularies within a language. Twenty French–English bilingual and twenty English monolingual children (seven to ten years old) participated in a picture-naming task in English. Their errors were coded for schematic or categorical relations. The bilingual children made more schematic errors than monolinguals, a difference that was accounted for statistically by vocabulary score differences. This result suggests that within-language vocabulary size is one important factor in semantic development and may explain why bilingual children sometimes show a lag relative to monolingual children in one of their languages, perhaps the language in which they have received less formal instruction.


This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 40, Issue 4, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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