a1 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
This study examined information about adjective meanings available in adults' spoken discourse in the original 27 CHILDES corpora of typically developing English-speaking children. In order to increase the probability that adjectives would be novel to children to whom they were addressed, only rare adjectives were examined (those that occurred 5 times in the corpus, N=878). Contexts surrounding adjectives (±3 utterances on either side of the target) were scored for linguistic clues to meaning, including related language, compare/contrast and evaluative information. Linguistic contexts contained more information in adult–child conversations than in adult–adult conversations. There were differences among information categories. For example, explicit definitions were relatively rare compared to other types of information and were far less frequent than reported in structured laboratory situations. Findings highlight the importance of looking at adult input in situations where teaching word meaning is not an explicit goal.
(Received June 07 2005)
(Revised June 23 2006)
[*] Thanks to Mark Schroeder for assistance with scoring data and Dr John Surber for helpful comments on the manuscript.