Early Word Learning explores the processes leading to a young child learning words and their meanings. Word learning is here understood as the outcome of overlapping and interacting processes, starting with an infant’s learning of native speech sounds to segmenting proto-words from fluent speech, mapping individual words to meanings in the face of natural variability and uncertainty, and developing a structured mental lexicon.

Experts in the field review the development of early lexical acquisition from empirical, computational and theoretical perspectives to examine the development of skilled word learning as the outcome of a process that begins even before birth and spans the first two years of life. Drawing on cutting-edge research in infant eye-tracking, neuroimaging techniques and computational modelling, this book surveys the field covering both established results and the most recent advances in word learning research.

Featuring chapters from international experts whose research approaches the topic from these diverse perspectives using different methodologies, this book provides a comprehensive yet coherent and unified representation of early word learning. It will be invaluable for both undergraduate and postgraduate courses in early language development as well as being of interest to researchers interested in lexical development.

chapter 1|14 pages

Before the word

Acquiring a phoneme inventory
ByTitia Benders, Nicole Altvater-Mackensen

chapter 2|15 pages

The proto-lexicon

Segmenting word-like units from the speech stream
ByCaroline Junge

chapter 3|14 pages

Intrinsic and extrinsic cues to word learning

ByPadraic Monaghan, Marina Kalashnikova, Karen Mattock

chapter 4|13 pages

Mapping words to objects

ByJessica S. Horst

chapter 5|13 pages

Building a lexical network

ByNivedita Mani, Arielle Borovsky

chapter 6|13 pages


Learning how speakers use words to refer to actions
ByJane B. Childers, Angeline Bottera, Tyler Howard

chapter 7|13 pages

Listening to (and listening through) variability during word learning

ByKatherine S. White

chapter 8|14 pages

Individual differences in early word learning

ByMeredith L. Rowe, Kathryn A. Leech

chapter 9|13 pages

Early bilingual word learning

ByChristopher Fennell, Casey Lew-Williams

chapter 10|15 pages

ERP indices of word learning

What do they reflect and what do they tell us about the neural representations of early words?
ByManuela Friedrich

chapter 11|17 pages

Computational models of word learning

ByGert Westermann, Katherine Twomey