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How Children Learn the Meanings of Words (Learning, Development, and Conceptual Change) Paperback – March 7, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0262523295 ISBN-10: 0262523299

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Product Details

  • Series: Learning, Development, and Conceptual Change
  • Paperback: 314 pages
  • Publisher: A Bradford Book (March 7, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262523299
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262523295
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #149,482 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

... this book is likely to have a profound impact on the field of child language.

(Anne Bezuidenhout Metapsychology Online Review)

About the Author

Paul Bloom is Professor of Psychology at Yale University.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderfully informative, readable, and engaging book about how children learn words, and more generally about children's early conceptual knowledge and understanding of the minds of other people. Anyone interested in how children learn language, or in the relationship between language and thought, will enjoy this book. The author surveys a large body of the latest, most exciting research findings about how children learn words, and presents his own very interesting proposals, covering such issues as: The prelinguistic concepts that infants and young children possess, how they read the minds of others in order to decide what a speaker is referring to when they hear a new word, how they attend to certain aspects of the world at the expense of others when considering possible meanings for a new word; in short, how children are able to perform such a remarkable feat as learning a language in their first few years of life. The book also addresses such deep and interesting issues as whether the language one learns influences how one sees and thinks about the world. I highly recommend this book to those who are interested in children's early language and thought and its development.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By William J. Poser on October 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is a marvelous synthesis of research, by the author, his students, and many others, on how children learn the meanings of words. It makes clear why learning the meanings of words is a difficult task requiring explication, which is not immediately obvious, and then presents a great deal of evidence bearing on how it is done. As someone accustomed to reading very critically and frequently finding faults and gaps even in arguments to which I am sympathetic, I was amazed at how rarely I could find anything to quibble with. The book is also very balanced theoretically; the author considers a wide range of possible factors, from innate constraints on lexical semantics to general principles of theory of mind, and argues his case very fairly.
The book is not always easy reading, but it is always clear and pleasant. In a few cases the interpretation of an experiment described will not be entirely clear to someone with no background in psycholinguistics; in a few others, linguistic ideas are referred to without much explanation. Overall, however, the book should be accessible even to those without specialized trainng in linguistics or psychology.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Trevis Rothwell on July 27, 2013
Format: Paperback
The author states in the final chapter that "nobody knows how children learn the meanings of words", and accordingly refrains from pretending to tell us. Instead, this book consists mostly of the summaries of language acquisition research, beautifully weaved together into a coherent text by the author, who gently prods us toward results that he finds most plausible, without claiming to know the one true answer.

For a layman curious about the field, this is a great overview. For a novice linguistics researcher wanting to get oriented and pointed in the right direction for further reading, this is a great starting place. For an artificial intelligence researcher who wants yet more reminders of just how tough the natural language problem is, this is a bountiful source of reminders.

Reading is slow-going at times, not due to poor writing, but due to a very large amount of content stuffed into relatively few pages. If you gloss over a page or two, you may well get lost.
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How Children Learn the Meanings of Words (Learning, Development, and Conceptual Change)
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