Defining Abstract Entities Development in Pre-Adolescents, Adolescents, and Young Adults Research Article
Research Article  |   April 1999
Defining Abstract Entities
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Marilyn A. Nippold
    Communication Disorders and Sciences Program University of Oregon Eugene
  • Susan L. Hegel
    Communication Disorders and Sciences Program University of Oregon Eugene
  • McKay Moore Sohlberg
    Communication Disorders and Sciences Program University of Oregon Eugene
  • Ilsa E. Schwarz
    Department of Speech and Language Therapy University of Canterbury Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Contact author: Marilyn A. Nippold, PhD, Communication Disorders and Sciences, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403.
    Contact author: Marilyn A. Nippold, PhD, Communication Disorders and Sciences, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403.×
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: nippold@oregon.uoregon.edu
Article Information
Development / School-Based Settings / Normal Language Processing / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 1999
Defining Abstract Entities
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 1999, Vol. 42, 473-481. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4202.473
History: Received March 12, 1998 , Accepted August 21, 1998
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 1999, Vol. 42, 473-481. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4202.473
History: Received March 12, 1998; Accepted August 21, 1998

Students ages 12, 15, 18, and 23 (n=60 per group) wrote definitions for 16 abstract nouns (e.g., pride, courage, realization). Responses were analyzed for the Aristotelian style, a type of definition that mentions both the superordinate category term and one or more characteristics of the word (e.g., "Pride is a sense of delight about a possession or accomplishment"). This response type was of interest because it is a sophisticated and literate defining style that is modeled in classrooms, textbooks, and dictionaries—a style that is informative, concise, and efficient. The results indicated that a number of important changes occur in the ability to provide Aristotelian definitions for abstract nouns during the developmental period from late childhood to early adulthood. Specifically, there was an increasing tendency for students to mention the appropriate category to which a word belongs, core features of the word, and subtle aspects of meaning. The study contributes to the knowledge base concerning the nature of language development in pre-adolescents, adolescents, and young adults.

Acknowledgments
The authors express sincere appreciation to the students who participated in this investigation and to the teachers, principals, and administrators who allowed the study to be conducted and assisted in scheduling the testing sessions. Portions of this research were presented at the Child Language Seminar in Garderen, The Netherlands, on September 13, 1997. The authors appreciate all comments from the audience.
Order a Subscription
Pay Per View
Entire Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research content & archive
24-hour access
This Article
24-hour access