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The Boston Globe


Derrick Z. Jackson

Understanding the language gap

To understand the critical connections children make in language, picture a dog on a sofa.

“If I say to you, ‘The doggie is on the sofa,’ and you know what a dog is, you don’t have to yet know what a sofa is,” said Stanford University psychology professor Anne Fernald. “You can use the familiar word to figure out the meaning of the new word. In a sense, you pick up the sofa in your vocabulary for free.

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