|Abstract||Bloom construes early word learning as a mapping task in which the word maps onto a psychological entity that is a concept. His test for successful mapping of referential terms is getting their extensions right; a concept's role is to pick out the right category of things in order for the sole business of the language, communication, to proceed. The local linguistic context generally provides only the language- specific word to be mapped onto the pre- and non-linguistic concept, which plays much the same role as Locke's "ideas" did (Locke 1690), minus his tabula rasa. To solve the mapping problem, the child uses multiple strategies, of which the central one is discerning the intentions of speakers. In the basket of competencies available to the child, essentialism, the assumption that many individuals are referred to by the same word because of a shared hidden essence, is also a significant asset. Drawing upon a wealth of experimental results, Bloom applies this explanation to defeat the alternative explanations of empiricist associationism and of specifically linguistic constraints.|
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