Category Archives: Language Acquisition

Beyond Name for Things: Young Children’s Acquisition of Verbs edited by Michael Tomasello and William E. Merriman

For my job in a developmental psychology lab, I have been doing a lot of reading on language acquisition. Although I won’t bore you with the details of the many many scientific papers I have read, I will include the actual books. This one was very interesting. The field of language acquisition ignored verb learning for decades since it was deemed too difficult to study (amongst other problems). This book was the first to have a chance to review all of the main literature on the topic, once it became large enough to have a book about it. Michael Tomasello is one of the top researchers in language acquisition, and more specifically verb learning, so he brought in the other top researchers for this book. There is such a wide range of interesting ideas being presented within the chapters. I quite enjoyed the introductory chapter by the editors in particular, since it discussed why the field ignored verbs for so long, and why they should be studied now. I also found a chapter on the difference between hedgehog and fox problems (easy formulaic solutions versus cunning and problem solving) by Michael Maratsos and Gedeon De√°k quite fascinating. They explained why the field assuming there are simple rules for children to learn and follow to learn verbs (hedgehog solutions) is a ridiculous¬†idea that needs to be overturned. Anyone interested in how children learn words (especially verbs obviously) should read at least a few of these chapters!

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Filed under Language Acquisition, Nonfiction, Psychology, Science