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date: 26 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines how language and thought interrelate in early childhood, across several distinct domains (e.g. numerical and spatial reasoning, category formation, social cognition). A review of several decades of research indicates that throughout development, language and thought are related in several distinct ways: (1) language builds on (and reveals) existing concepts; (2) language serves as a tool for thinking in new ways; (3) language guides action and attention; (4) language invites children to form new concepts; (5) different languages have specific influences on thought; and (6) language is a social marker, such that a person’s language, dialect, and register permit others to make inferences about them (e.g. what they like and who they affiliate with). The chapter ends by pointing to important questions for future research.

Keywords: developmental psychology, social cognition, language, essentialism, concepts

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