The effect of age on the composition of the first 10 words: evidence from the UK-CDI

Just, Janine, Alcock, Katie, Meints, Kerstin and Rowland, Caroline (2015) The effect of age on the composition of the first 10 words: evidence from the UK-CDI. In: Child Language Symposium 2015, 20 - 21 July 2015, University of Warwick.

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Traditionally, many studies on children’s first words have focussed on cross-linguistic analyses, investigating whether children acquire language with a universal noun bias or whether their first words more directly reflect which words are spoken in their environment (see Tardif et al., 2008). However, few papers have, as yet, investigated the effect of age on the composition of children’s first words. If children approach language with a noun bias, the age of first word acquisition should not impact the composition of those words. However, if the first words reflect the most common words in the input, we might expect younger and older children to learn different words due to different environmental factors, e.g. a shift in mobility and feeding practices. A new parent report instrument (UK-CDI) is used to compare the composition of the first 10 words in children who reached 10 words at 8-10 months of age with those who reached 10 words at 16-18 months. For the data collected (N=172), a one-way age x all words ANOVA reveals a significant main effect for age [F(1,170)=58.49; p<0.000]. A repeated measures 2 x 5 ANOVA (age x word categories) shows a significant interaction effect between age and word categories [F(4,680)=9.73; p=<0.000] indicating that the age at which the first spoken words occur affects the type of words learnt. Only 43% of the first 10 words produced by 16-18-month-olds were nouns, compared to 64% for the 8-10-month-olds. In addition, overall, 16-18-month-olds had words that spanned more categories, learnt a greater number of sounds (e.g. woof, grr), and knew more food/drink words. However, both groups produced similar numbers of words for games and routines (e.g. hello, yes). The results suggest that the early environment of children plays a substantial role in the composition of the early lexicon within, as well as between, languages.

Keywords:early vocabulary, first language acquisition
Subjects:Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q150 Psycholinguistics
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
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ID Code:18788
Deposited On:20 Sep 2015 17:04

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