The Use of Iconic Words in Early Child-Parent Interactions

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle in proceedings

  • Marcus Perlman
    Marcus PerlmanMax Planck Institute for PsycholinguisticsNetherlands
  • Riccardo Fusaroli
  • Deborah Fein
    Deborah FeinUniversity of ConnecticutUnited States
  • Letitia Naigles
    Letitia NaiglesUniversity of ConnecticutUnited States
This paper examines the use of iconic words in early conversations between children and caregivers. The longitudinal data include a span of six observations of 35 children-parent dyads in the same semi-structured activity . Our findings show that children’s speech initially has a high proportion of iconic words, and over time, these words become diluted by an increase of arbitrary words. Parents’ speech is also initially high in iconic words, with a decrease in the proportion of iconic words over time – in this case driven by the use of fewer iconic words. The level and development of iconicity are related to individual differences in the children’s cognitive skills. Our findings fit with the hypothesis that iconicity facilitates early word learning and may play an important role in learning to produce new words.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCogSci 2017 Proceedings of the 39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society : CogSci 2017
EditorsRichard Granger, Ulrike Hahn, Richard Sutton
Number of pages6
PublisherCognitive Science Society, Inc.
Publication year2017
ISBN (print)9780991196760
StatePublished - 2017
EventCogSci 2017 - London, United Kingdom
Duration: 26 Jul 201729 Jul 2017


ConferenceCogSci 2017
LandUnited Kingdom

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