Re: Over and Underextension

From: Jesse, K. (
Date: Mon May 27 1996 - 17:08:18 BST

What are over and underextension in word learning ?

Refering to a particular item in an isolated sence but failing to refer
to another item in the same category in that sence is an illustration of
underextension. Commonly used by young children, for example when a
child calls their teddy bear Teddy but refers to other teddy bears as
'toy'. Another example is a child calling their special piece of
material 'blanket' whilst calling other blankets a different name.

In contrast the use of a word which extends beyond the boundries
of its correct usage is referred to as overextension. It is more common
in everyday language than underextension, for example hoover, bluetac
etc. In word learning children use overextension when they
misunderstand the name of an object by its simple chararistic. For
example, a child is told that a car is called a car, then the child sees
a truck which has four wheels alike a car and calls it a car.

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