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Title: The mutual exclusivity assumption : a social-cognitive approach to its development and flexible use in lexical acquisition
Author: Kalashnikova, Marina
Awarding Body: Lancaster University
Current Institution: Lancaster University
Date of Award: 2013
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The Mutual Exclusivity (ME) assumption guides early lexical acquisition by biasing children to establish one-to-one relationships between word forms and their meanings. While it constitutes a useful strategy for word learning, ME is often suspended to allow for the acquisition of terms that overlap in reference. Furthermore, while extensive previous research has shown that children maintain ME by default, the developing ability to use it as a flexible assumption and its linguistic or cognitive nature remain debated. The present work introduces the social-cognitive framework to investigate the ontogeny of this strategy, its flexible use according to the context of each naming situation, and its relation to more general aspects of early linguistic, social, and cognitive development. A set of behavioural and preferential looking eye-tracking paradigms were constructed to assess the flexible use of ME in populations of 18-month-old infants, monolingual, sequential bilingual, and simultaneous bilingual three- to five-year-old children, and adults. The exclusivity paradigms tested participants' default use of the assumption, while the overlap paradigms tested their ability to suspend it to acquire referentially overlapping terms. In addition, children completed batteries of tasks of receptive vocabulary, social understanding, metalinguistic, and general cognitive development, which were analysed in relation to performance in the ME tasks.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available