DonnaM » Blog Archive » Category & language formation

Category & language formation

I’m reading a bit about category development and linguistics and prototype theory and basic categories and things at the moment (instead of doing my proper university work) and I did an interesting experiment with my daughter tonight (oh, the ethics of experimenting on my own 5 year old ;)

I gave her jars of spice and told her to smell them and put spices together that smelled similar – I was actually more interested in her ideas about smell than what resulted. Her comments as she smelt were – this one smells like mustard, this one smells like cinnamon, this one smells like grass, this one smells like cinnamon too, this one smells like yuck…

I found this interesting:

  • in relation to basic categories that I have been reading about
  • hearing her give them names quickly and immediately, rather than descriptions
  • it is similar to what I hear when card sorting – participants quickly start naming and labelling things rather than thinking ‘aboutness’

I have some thoughts about basic categories and the way that they may affect our work, but need to read more so I don’t ignorantly put my foot in my mouth ;)

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