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Kinds, Things, and StuffMass Terms and Generics$
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Francis Jeffry Pelletier

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195382891

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195382891.001.0001

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Generics as a Window onto Young Children's Concepts

Generics as a Window onto Young Children's Concepts

(p.100) 6 Generics as a Window onto Young Children's Concepts
Kinds, Things, and Stuff

Susan A. Gelman (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

It is observed that children acquire generic concepts with ease, despite being given ambiguous and insufficient evidence. Although this seems of a piece with general issues that arise in word learning—itself an instance of the classic problem of induction—there are many further peculiarities in the case of generics. Children start using generics between two and three years of age, and this capacity to understand them so early suggests that the input of particular types of generics might be the way that children's concepts and knowledge are shaped. The picture, then, is that children seem to possess kind concepts beforehand that permit the early acquisition of generic noun phrases. A number of ways in which one could investigate this hypothesis are sketched.

Keywords:   generics, concepts, language acquisition, kind concepts

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