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Acquisition of the mental state verb know by 2- to 5-year-old children


Booth JRJ R , Hall WSW S , Robison GCG C , Kim SYS Y . Journal of psycholinguistic research. 1997 11 ; 26(6). 581-603


The production of the cognitive internal state word know by four 2- to 5-year-old children and their parents was examined. The levels of meaning of cognitive words can be categorized hierarchically along the dimensions of conceptual difficulty and abstractness (see Booth & Hall, 1995). The present study found that children and their parents expressed low levels of meaning less frequently, whereas they expressed high levels of meaning more frequently as a function of age. The children’s use of know was also correlated positively with (1) their number of different words produced suggesting that cognitive words are related to more general semantic processes, and (2) with parental use of those same cognitive words suggesting that parental linguistic input may be an important mechanism in cognitive word acquisition. Finally, young children tended to use know more to refer to themselves than to refer to others, whereas their parents tended to use know equally to refer to self and others. The importance of cognitive words in a theory of language acquisition is discussed.