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Meghan Nesheim ACF Abstract FY12

"Body Parts and Early-Learned Verbs in Children"

84th Midwestern Psychological Association (MPA) Conference

We commonly believe that verbs are about action, but are they also about body parts? We kiss with our lips, kick with our legs, and think with our heads. Our question is whether children systematically associate verbs to specific body parts. So far, theoretically, the original components of verbs include: contact, path, goal, source, state of mind, and manner (Kemerer, 2008). Our study adds the component of body parts. Sixty children were tested, 20 verbs at a time, with a total of 102 verbs. They were asked which body part they use with a given verb. The results indicate that 91 verbs out if 102 (86.6%) were related to one body region by 50% of the participants. Further, a correspondence analysis (a dimension reduction technique) showed that children systematically associate verbs with five main body regions: hands (55% of the verbs), legs (13%), mouth (14%), eye (6%), and ear (2%) and these correspond to the exact same regions proposed by adults from a previous study.