Object Knowledge and the Emergence of Language

Lifter, Karin; Bloom, Lois

Infants' spontaneous play with objects was examined for evidence of developments in object knowledge in relation to the emergence of words and the single-word period in language development. Subjects were 7 girls and 7 boys, from different ethnic and economic backgrounds, who were studied longitudinally from 9 months to 26 months of age. Two types of displacements of objects in relation to one another were identified in the children's play: separations and constructions. The development of constructions was associated with the emergence of words, and constructions increased with age while separations decreased. The development of specific constructions, which account for knowledge of the particular properties of objects, was more strongly associated with a vocabulary spurt at the end of the single-word period than with chronological age. Despite the wide variation in the infants' ages when developments in language and play were reached, relations between achievements in the two domains were consistent among them, as confirmed with the Friedman test, p<.001. The results are discussed in terms of the cognitive developments required for play with objects and saying words.


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Infant Behavior and Development

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Academic Units
Human Development
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January 25, 2017