Our research is about how infants learn words from the world around them. Over the first few years of life infants quickly develop and figure out whatever language life throws at them. This is an especially hard problem because different languages have different sounds in them, different rules about how sounds combine, different ways that words map onto concepts in the world, and different grammar structures. And yet babies figure this all out very quickly! In this project, we're especially interested in how infants learn words for common objects, which are some of the very first words they understand.
We know from lots of previous research that early language development really matters for many later abilities: for learning to read, for school and job success, etc. Figuring out how word-learning proceeds in more typical cases also will provide us with a strong background for figuring out the causes, effects, and interventions that will be helpful for children with speech, hearing, and language difficulties. We also know from previous work that children growing up in disadvantaged backgrounds often end up with delayed language abilities, and here too the better we understand the relationship between infants' environments and what they learn, the better chance we have of helping eliminate those delays.
More to come...