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date: 10 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Words carry social information by reflecting the intentions and interests of individual speakers. In this chapter, we argue for the possibility that early developments in infants’ social understanding may support word learning in the first year of life. We begin by first focusing on the literature that has isolated the earliest time points at which infants’ segmentation and associative capacities have been found in laboratory environments. In the second half of this chapter, we discuss a diverse range of research in infant cognitive development to highlight the ways in which social information might aid even young infants’ ability to acquire and interpret words. Infants younger than 12 months may not spontaneously or accurately track others’ referential cues; however, existing research raises the important possibility that certain components of early word learning may be enhanced when intentions are made clear, available, and salient.

Keywords: word learning, infancy, early social cognition

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