An Introduction to the Psychology of Word Meaning

Paula J. SchwanenflugelUniversity of Georgia

In the past few years, cognitive scientists have made tremendous strides in the understanding of how word meaning is represented, processed, and acquired. Simultaneously, research has progressed on a number of fronts: First, our knowledge has greatly expanded regarding fairly basic issues such as the general nature and structure of word meaning (e.g., Barsalou, 1987; Cohen & Murphy, 1984; Medin & Smith, 1984) and how such structure is reflected when word meanings are combined (Hampton, 1987; Medin & Shoben, 1988). Significant advances have also been made in our understanding of how very young children come to learn the meanings of new words (Markman, ...

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