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Acquisition of the Novel Name-Nameless Category (N3C) Principle

Carolyn B. Mervis and Jacquelyn Bertrand
Child Development
Vol. 65, No. 6 (Dec., 1994), pp. 1646-1662
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1131285
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1131285
Page Count: 17
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Acquisition of the Novel Name-Nameless Category (N3C) Principle
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Abstract

Toddlers' acquisition of the Novel Name-Nameless Category (N3C) principle was examined to investigate the developmental lexical principles framework and the applicability of the specificity hypothesis to relations involving lexical principles. In Study 1, we assessed the ability of 32 children between the ages of 16 and 20 months to use the N3C principle (operationally defined as the ability to fast map). As predicted, only some of the children could fast map. This finding provided evidence for a crucial tenet of the developmental lexical principles framework: Some lexical principles are not available at the start of language acquisition. Children who had acquired the N3C principle also had significantly larger vocabularies and were significantly more likely to demonstrate 2-category exhaustive sorting abilities than children who had not acquired the principle. The 2 groups of children did not differ in either age or object permanence abilities. The 16 children who could not fast map were followed longitudinally until they attained a vocabulary spurt; at that time, their ability to fast map was retested (Study 2). Results provided a longitudinal replication of the findings of Study 1. Implications of these findings for both the developmental lexical principles framework and the specificity hypothesis are discussed.

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