Novel noun and verb learning in Chinese-, English-, and Japanese-speaking children

Child Dev. 2008 Jul-Aug;79(4):979-1000. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2008.01171.x.


When can children speaking Japanese, English, or Chinese map and extend novel nouns and verbs? Across 6 studies, 3- and 5-year-old children in all 3 languages map and extend novel nouns more readily than novel verbs. This finding prevails even in languages like Chinese and Japanese that are assumed to be verb-friendly languages (e.g., T. Tardif, 1996). The results also suggest that the input language uniquely shapes verb learning such that English-speaking children require grammatical support to learn verbs, whereas Chinese children require pragmatic as well as grammatical support. This research bears on how universally shared cognitive factors and language-specific linguistic factors interact in lexical development.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Asians*
  • Child
  • Child Language*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Male
  • Verbal Learning*
  • Vocabulary*