How Children Acquire Language-specific Ways of Partitioning Space: Creating a Semantic Category System Using Semantic Primitives

  • Received : 2015.02.10
  • Accepted : 2015.02.25
  • Published : 2015.02.28


This paper reviews Grammatical Mapping theory, a recently proposed theoretical paradigm for understanding children's acquisition of syntax, and ventures to apply the theory to the acquisition of semantics. Particularly, we focused on the domain of space, and proposed how children might acquire a unique system of spatial words in their mother tongue. Based on our review of evidence, we propose that there may be universal semantic primitives that serve as foundations of word meanings. We also propose that children must learn their mother tongue's semantic category system of spatial relations, from real time data. Finally, we argue that children's learning of word meanings may involve creation of a theory that makes sense to the child, and that this process of theory creation is possibly guided by universal principles and parameters.



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