Children's world of words: A developmental perspective

Year: 2005

Author: Le, Thao

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Children's semantic development has been studied for decades. Eve Clark is among one of the influential research pioneers on how children develop words and their meanings. Most research tends to focus on the cognitive or referential meaning. However the mystery of children's world of words has still attracted researchers, particularly from an intercultural perspective. Bilingual children tend to develop code mixing and code switching in their use of two languages. At the University of Tasmania, research on children' semantic development started with verbal explanation and definition strategies. Our recent focus is on aspects of cultural meanings with their cultural metaphors in children's words. For example, what do words with social meanings such as 'wife', 'teacher', 'neighbour' etc. mean to children of different cultural backgrounds? This paper attempts to discuss this question with examples from Australian and Vietnamese children.

Keywords: children, words, language development