Defusing the Childhood Vocabulary Explosion

  title={Defusing the Childhood Vocabulary Explosion},
  author={Bob McMurray},
  pages={631 - 631}
During the second year of life, the rate at which children acquire new words accelerates dramatically. This has led the field of language acquisition to posit specialized mechanisms that leverage the few words learned in the initial slow phase for faster vocabulary growth later. Simulations and mathematical analysis demonstrate that specialized cognitive changes are unnecessary. The acceleration in lexical acquisition is a necessary by-product of learning if (i) multiple words are learned in… 

A stochastic model for the vocabulary explosion

A stochastic version of the vocabulary explosion demonstrates that the gradual nature of learning is critical for producing acceleration, and given sufficient gradualness, virtually any distribution of word difficulty can yield acceleration.

Vocabulary Spurt: Are Infants full of Zipf?.

It is demonstrated that occurrence statistics alone is not enough to explain the acceleration in vocabulary growth, and other potential exogenous contributions such as phonological complexity are discussed and it is suggested that a change in word learning capacities is necessary.

A performance model for early word learning

A simple model of cognitive performance that takes a first step towards quantifying performance limitations for cognitive development and may be broadly applicable to other developmental changes.

Modelling vocabulary growth from birth to young adulthood

There is little evidence for the vocabulary spurt phenomenon as a separable aspect of language acquisition, but the acquisition of a receptive/productive lexicon can be quite adequately modelled as a single growth function with an ecologically well founded and cognitively plausible interpretation.

What does it take to learn a word?

It is argued that new theoretical insights, coupled with methodological tools, have pushed the field toward an appreciation of simple, content-free processes working together as a system to support the acquisition of words.

Word Learning in 6-Month-Olds: Fast Encoding–Weak Retention

First evidence that infants as young as 6 months are able to associate objects and words after only very few exposures is reported, suggesting that already at 6 months the encoding process of word learning is based on fast declarative memory formation, but limitations in the consolidation of declaratives memory diminish the long lasting effect in lexical-semantic memory at that age.

The pace of vocabulary growth helps predict later vocabulary skill.

Understanding the pace of early vocabulary growth improves the ability to predict school readiness and may help identify children at risk for starting behind, particularly for children from low-SES backgrounds.

Merced Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society Title Different Classes of Words Are Learned in Different Ways Permalink

What determines vocabulary growth patterns? The research presented here examines the growth pattern of words listed in the McArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory using a computational

On Leveraged Learning in Lexical Acquisition and Its Relationship to Acceleration

This paper examines the role of Leveraged learning in the vocabulary spurt by proposing a simple model of leveraged learning and applying it to the Zipfian distribution of word frequencies, which confirm that leveraging does not create acceleration, but that the relationship between frequency and the difficulty of learning a word may be complex.

Toddlers Always Get the Last Word: Recency biases in early verbal behavior

Evidence is presented that 2to 3-year-old children exhibit a robust recency bias when verbally responding to two-alternative choice questions, possibly due to the availability of the second word in phonological memory.



Reexamining the vocabulary spurt.

The authors asked whether there is evidence to support the existence of the vocabulary spurt, an increase in the rate of word learning that is thought to occur during the 2nd year of life, and found that just 5 children had a better logistic fit, which indicated that these children underwent a spurt.

Before and after the vocabulary spurt: two modes of word acquisition?

This paper focuses on early lexical development, and especially the period around 18 months known as the vocabulary spurt. We first propose that this period corresponds to a shift from an

Lexical competition in young children’s word learning

How Children Learn the Meanings of Words

How Children Learn the Meanings of Words by Paul Bloom. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2000, xii+300 pp. Reviewed by Masahiko Minami San Francisco State University How do children learn the

Perspectives on language and thought : interrelations in development

Part I. Introduction: 1. Perspectives on thought and language: traditional and contemporary views James P. Byrnes and Susan A. Gelman Part II. Relations Between Word Learning and Categorization: 2.


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Cognit Psychot

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Blumberg for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript; C. Manson for assistance with the figure; and G. Oden for suggesting the central limit theorem

  • Blumberg for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript; C. Manson for assistance with the figure; and G. Oden for suggesting the central limit theorem

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