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A perceptual advantage for onomatopoeia in early word learning: Evidence from eye-tracking

Laing, Catherine 2017. A perceptual advantage for onomatopoeia in early word learning: Evidence from eye-tracking. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 161 , pp. 32-45. 10.1016/j.jecp.2017.03.017

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A perceptual advantage for iconic forms in infant language learning has been widely reported in the literature, termed the “sound symbolism bootstrapping hypothesis” by Imai and Kita (2014). However, empirical research in this area is limited mainly to sound symbolic forms, which are very common in languages such as Japanese but less so in Indo-European languages such as English. In this study, we extended this body of research to onomatopoeia—words that are thought to be present across most of the world’s languages and that are known to be dominant in infants’ early lexicons. In a picture-mapping task, 10- and 11-month-old infants showed a processing advantage for onomatopoeia (e.g., woof woof) over their conventional counterparts (e.g., doggie). However, further analysis suggests that the input may play a key role in infants’ experience and processing of these forms.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0022-0965
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 September 2017
Date of Acceptance: 28 April 2017
Last Modified: 10 May 2018 01:45

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