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Overextensions are especially likely if children don’t know the right word for what they wish to talk about. As Lois Bloom (1973, p. ’ ’’ Sometimes it is clear that children are using words in a nonliteral fashion, as when a two-year-old says that wheeling searchlights on top of a building are ‘‘like a helicopter’’ (Macnamara, 1982). And I suspect that when Max put the pepper on his head, he didn’t think it was really a hat. He found the situation extremely amusing, after all, much more 38 Chapter 2 so than normal hat-wearing and hat-naming.

1976), but the one thing that is agreed by all sides is that for prototype theory to work it must adequately capture patterns of categorization: it has to explain why we think that some things, but not others, are chairs and mothers. And when developmentalists talk about constraints on word meaning (Markman, 1989), inductions about word meaning (Soja, Carey & Spelke, 1991), or cues to word meaning (Gleitman, 1990), they are talking about constraints, inductions, and cues that pertain to the sorts of things children think words refer to.

But her word does not refer to H 2O; it refers to XYZ (though she doesn’t know this). If reference determines meaning, then the two girls use the words with different meanings, and, as Putnam (1975, p. ’’ One can find the same situation without resorting to science fiction. Consider two boys, one raised in Boston, the other raised in London, and assume that they each have the same concept associated with the word robin; they each believe that robins are red-breasted birds, and this is all they know about them.

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Alien 3


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