Novel noun and verb learning in Chinese-, English-, and Japanese-speaking children

Mutsumi Imai, Lianjing Li, Etsuko Haryu, Hiroyuki Okada, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Jun Shigematsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

148 Citations (Scopus)


When can children speaking Japanese, English, or Chinese map and extend novel nouns and verbs? Across 6 studies, 3- and 5-year-old children in all 3 languages map and extend novel nouns more readily than novel verbs. This finding prevails even in languages like Chinese and Japanese that are assumed to be verb-friendly languages (e.g., T. Tardif, 1996). The results also suggest that the input language uniquely shapes verb learning such that English-speaking children require grammatical support to learn verbs, whereas Chinese children require pragmatic as well as grammatical support. This research bears on how universally shared cognitive factors and language-specific linguistic factors interact in lexical development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)979-1000
Number of pages22
JournalChild Development
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Jul

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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