Semantic Representation and Naming in Young Children Children's semantic representations and semantic naming errors were the focus of this study. In Experiment 1, 25 normally developing children (mean age=5 years 4 months) named, drew, and defined 20 age-appropriate objects. The results suggested that functional and physical properties are core aspects of object representations in the semantic lexicon ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 2002
Semantic Representation and Naming in Young Children
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Karla K. McGregor, PhD
    Northwestern University Evanston, IL
  • Rena M. Friedman
    Northwestern University Evanston, IL
  • Renée M. Reilly
    Northwestern University Evanston, IL
  • Robyn M. Newman
    Northwestern University Evanston, IL
  • Contact author: Karla K. McGregor, PhD, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Northwestern University, 2299 N. Campus Dr., Evanston IL 60208. E-mail: k-mcgregor@northwestern.edu
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / School-Based Settings / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 2002
Semantic Representation and Naming in Young Children
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2002, Vol. 45, 332-346. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2002/026)
History: Received May 7, 2001 , Accepted December 3, 2001
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2002, Vol. 45, 332-346. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2002/026)
History: Received May 7, 2001; Accepted December 3, 2001
Web of Science® Times Cited: 89

Children's semantic representations and semantic naming errors were the focus of this study. In Experiment 1, 25 normally developing children (mean age=5 years 4 months) named, drew, and defined 20 age-appropriate objects. The results suggested that functional and physical properties are core aspects of object representations in the semantic lexicon and that these representations are often organized and accessed according to a taxonomic hierarchy. Results of a new procedure, comparative picture naming/picture drawing, suggested that the degree of knowledge in the semantic lexicon makes words more or less vulner-able to retrieval failure. Most semantic naming errors were associated with limited semantic knowledge, manifested as either lexical gaps or fragile representations. Comparison of definitions for correctly named and semantically misnamed objects provided converging evidence for this conclusion. In Experiment 2, involving 16 normally developing children (mean age=5 years 5 months), the comparative picture naming/picture drawing results were replicated with a stimulus set that allowed a priori matching of the visual complexity of items drawn from correct and semantic error pools. Discussion focuses on the dynamic nature of semantic representations and the relation between semantic representation and naming during a period of slow mapping. The value of comparative picture naming/ picture drawing as a new method for exploring children's semantic representa-tions is emphasized.

Acknowledgments
This investigation was supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) award #R29 DC 03698-03 to Karla K. McGregor. We are indebted to the school officials, families, and children who made data collection possible. We thank Alice Eagly, who provided suggestions regarding reliability analyses; Rosie Carr, who transcribed the definitions; Meredith Weiss, who assisted with pilot data and coding; Nina Capone, who conducted reliability measures; and each of our drawing raters.
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