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Naming the Living Things: Linguistic, Experiential and Cultural Factors in Wichí and Spanish Speaking Children

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture
Authors:
Andrea S. Taverna * Corresponding author, e-mail: ataverna@conicet.gov.ar
Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Cientificas y Tecnicas (CONICET), Universidad Nacional de Formosa (UNaF) Avenida Gutnisky 3200, 3600 Formosa Argentina

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Sandra R. Waxman Northwestern University Swift Hall 102, 2029 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208-2710, USA

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Douglas L. Medin Northwestern University Swift Hall 102, 2029 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208-2710, USA

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Nora Moscoloni Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Cientificas y Tecnicas (CONICET) Instituto Rosario de Investigaciones en Ciencias de la Educacion (IRICE) 27 de Febrero 2010 (BIS), 2000 Rosario Argentina

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Olga A. Peralta Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Cientificas y Tecnicas (CONICET) Instituto Rosario de Investigaciones en Ciencias de la Educacion (IRICE) 27 de Febrero 2010 (BIS), 2000 Rosario Argentina

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This work focuses on the underlying conceptual structure of children’s category of living things from a cross-cultural, cross-linguistic perspective. School-aged children (n = 129) from three Argentinean communities (rural Wichí-speaking, rural Spanish-speaking, urban Spanish-speaking) were asked to generate the names of living things. Analyses were focused on the typicality, semantic organization, and hierarchical level of the names mentioned. We identified convergences among the names generated by children in all three communities, as well as key differences: the typicality, habitats and hierarchical level of the categories mentioned varied as a function of children’s language and their direct experience with the natural world. These findings provide evidence concerning the role of language, culture and experience in shaping children’s folkbiological concepts.

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