Language and conceptual development: Words as essence placeholders

Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (6):704-705 (2002)

Perhaps in addition to language being a potential medium of domain-general thought, as suggested by Carruthers, language may also play another role in conceptual development: Words are “essence placeholders.” Evidence is presented from studies on categorization, object individuation, and inductive inference in infancy. The assumption that words are essence placeholders may be a mechanism by which infants acquire kind concepts.
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DOI 10.1017/S0140525X02540127
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