Toddlers Acquire Verb Transitivity in Non-Social Overhearing Contexts
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Acquiring word meanings is typically described as a social process involving live interaction and joint attention to the referent. However, the ability to learn meanings in non- social contexts could be useful in many overhearing situations, in which speech may not be child-directed, and learners may lack discourse and/or situational context. Is social context required to trigger toddlers’ abilities to map verbs to meaning? We address this question in the following experiment. Our results indicate that 2-year-olds can acquire a novel verb’s meaning even in socially impoverished contexts. This finding has implications for treatment of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.