For decades, a spirited debate has existed over whether infants' remarkable capacity to learn words is shaped primarily by universal features of human language or by specific features of the particular native language they are acquiring. A strong focus for this debate has been a well-documented difference in early word learning: Infants' success in learning verbs lags behind their success in learning nouns. In this review, we articulate both sides of the debate and summarize new cross-linguistic evidence from infants that underscores the role of universal features and begins to clarify the impact of distinctly different languages on early language and conceptual development.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Life-span and Life-course Studies