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Academic Paper


Title: Four- and six-year-olds use pragmatic competence to guide word learning
Author: Maria D Vázquez
Homepage: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/psychological_sciences/bio/maria-vazquez
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.

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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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