Old data—new eyes theories of word meaning acquisition

Esther Dromi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter reexamines the intriguing question of how 10-to 18-month-old infants get to know what words mean. The chapter begins with a condensed historical overview of theoretical models of word meaning acquisition, which are grouped according to major theoretical trends. The second section briey describes the Hebrew corpus that I collected almost thirty years ago and presents the system I used for data analysis. In the third and fourth sections, I summarize the main results on meaning acquisition and reiterate theoretical claims that I have been making based on my familiarity with Keren’s naturalistic data. In the last section, I discuss the old ndings with new eyes, reecting on the generalizations of my original ndings with reference to current theoretical models of word meaning acquisition. I show that present day accounts in fact make predictions that very well accord with observations that were rst reported in my doctoral dissertation. My intention is to demonstrate the value of investing that extraordinary effort into collecting a complete data set and of analyzing it at various levels of specicity. I also attempt to show that a rich child language database can be used over many years for testing competing theoretical accounts.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutes to Language
Subtitle of host publicationStudies in Honor of Melissa Bowerman
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781136873966
ISBN (Print)9781841697161
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2008


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