The role of inferences about referential intent in word learning: Evidence from autism.

Melissa Preissler, Susan Carey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

98 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Young children are readily able to use known labels to constrain hypotheses about the meanings of new words under conditions of referential ambiguity. At issue is the kind of information children use to constrain such hypotheses. According to one theory, children take into account the speaker?s intention when solving a referential puzzle. In the present studies, children with autism were impaired in monitoring referential intent, but were equally successful as normally developing 24-month-old toddlers at mapping novel words to unnamed items under conditions of referential ambiguity. Therefore, constraints that lead the child to map a novel label to a previously unnamed object under these circumstances are not solely based on assessments of speakers? intentions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)B13-B23
JournalCognition
Volume97
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2005

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