Proper names in early word learning: Rethinking a theoretical account of lexical development

Mind and Language 24 (4):404-432 (2009)
There is evidence that children learn both proper names and count nouns from the outset of lexical development. Furthermore, children's first proper names are typically words for people, whereas their first count nouns are commonly terms for other objects, including artifacts. I argue that these facts represent a challenge for two well-known theoretical accounts of object word learning. I defend an alternative account, which credits young children with conceptual resources to acquire words for both individual objects and object categories, and conceptual biases to construe some objects (notably people) as individuals in their own right and most other objects as instances of their category.
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