Acquisition of Demonstratives in English and Spanish

González-Peña, Patricia, Doherty, Martin J. ORCID: and Guijarro-Fuentes, Pedro (2020) Acquisition of Demonstratives in English and Spanish. Frontiers in Psychology, 11. ISSN 1664-1078

[thumbnail of Published_Version]
PDF (Published_Version) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (1MB) | Preview


The present work re-evaluates the long-standing claim that demonstratives are among infants’ earliest and most common words. Although demonstratives are deictic words important for joint attention, deictic gestures and non-word vocalizations could serve this function in early language development; the role of demonstratives may have been overestimated. Using extensive data from the CHILDES corpora (Study 1, N = 66, 265 transcripts) and McArthur-Bates CDI database (Study 2, N = 950), the language production of 18- to 24-month-old Spanish- and English-speaking children was analyzed to determine the age and order of acquisition, and frequency of demonstratives. Results indicate that demonstratives do not typically appear before the 50th word and only become frequent from the two-word utterance stage. Corpus data show few differences between Spanish and English, whereas parental report data suggest much later acquisition for demonstratives in English. These findings expand our knowledge of the foundations of deictic communication, and of the methodological challenges of assessing early production of function words.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: cdi,corpus linguistics,deixis,english,language acquisition,spanish,spatial demonstratives,psychology(all) ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/3200
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Groups > Developmental Science
Related URLs:
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 22 Aug 2020 00:05
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2022 06:38
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01778


Downloads per month over past year

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item