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Child Dev. 2002 Mar-Apr;73(2):418-33.

How children use input to acquire a lexicon.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Florida Atlantic University, Ft Lauderdale 33314, USA.


The contributions of social processes and computational processes to early lexical development were evaluated. A re-analysis and review of previous research cast doubt on the sufficiency of social approaches to word learning. An empirical investigation of the relation of social-pragmatic and data-providing features of input to the productive vocabulary of sixty-three 2-year-old children revealed benefits of data provided in mother-child conversation, but no effects of social aspects of those conversations. The findings further revealed that the properties of data that benefit lexical development in 2-year-olds are quantity, lexical richness, and syntactic complexity. The nature of the computational mechanisms implied by these findings is discussed. An integrated account of the roles of social and computational processes to lexical development is proposed.

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