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What Is Underextension?


Question: What Is Underextension?

Underextension is a phenomenon that occurs during the early phases of language development. Around the age of 18 months, a child's vocabulary begins to grow considerably, adding an average of 100 words each month. However, sometimes these words can be applied incorrectly.

Underextension involves not applying a new word to objects that are included in the meaning of that word. Kids apply the word too narrowly. For example, a child might learn the word dog, but might only use it to refer to his own dog rather than all of the other dogs that he encounters.

As children grow older and gain an even broader vocabulary, instances of underextension begin to decline.

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Griggs, R. A. (2009). Psychology: A Concise Introduction. New York: Worth Publishers.

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