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Learning Color Words Involves Learning a System of Mappings


This research examines the difficulty children encounter when acquiring 2 specific sets of adjectives, color and size words, and suggests that children must acquire a system of mapping in learning these words. Children were assessed on 4 types of mappings (word-word maps, property-property maps, word-property maps, and word-word-property maps) by completing 3 color tasks. Children also participated in comparable tasks for size words. In Study 1, 13 two-year-olds were followed longitudinally at 3-week intervals. In Study 2, 56 two-year-olds participated in a cross-sectional replication. The results indicate that children acquire color maps in a characteristic order. Children demonstrated a different pattern of acquisition for size words. The results suggest that learning word associations may promote color word acquisition and that learning color words may promote selective attention to color.

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