Development of adjective frequencies across semantic classes
A growth curve analysis of child speech and child-directed speech
Elena Tribushinina | Utrecht University
Huub van den Bergh | Tel Aviv University
Dorit Ravid | Bogazici University
Ayhan Aksu-Koç | University of Lausanne
Marianne Kilani-Schoch | University of Vienna
Katharina Korecky-Kröll | Haifa University
Iris Leibovitch-Cohen | University of Antwerp
This paper is a longitudinal investigation of adjective use by children aged 1;8−2;8, speaking Dutch, German, French, Hebrew, and Turkish, and by their caregivers. Each adjective token in transcripts of spontaneous speech was coded for semantic class. The development of adjective use in each semantic class was analysed by means of a multilevel logistic regression. The results show that toddlers and their parents use adjectives more often as the child grows older. However, this holds only for semantic classes denoting concrete concepts, such as physical properties, colour, and size. Adjectives denoting more abstract properties are barely used by children and parents throughout the first year of adjective acquisition. The correlations between adjective frequencies in child speech and child-directed speech are very strong at the beginning, but decrease with time as the child develops independent adjective use. The composition of early adjective lexicons is very similar in the five languages under study.
Keywords: adjective frequencies, order of emergence, cross-linguistic, semantic classes, audience design
Published online: 22 December 2014
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