In the tradition of Chomskian linguistics, learning a language is learning its syntax. By the same token, one does not know a language unless one knows the meanings of the words that one uses. In this chapter I have illustrated some key aspects of how cognitive structure constrains the learning of semantic knowledge. The central
Fig. 12.5 The establishment periods for some verbs related to stages of intersubjectivity (Reprinted from Gardenfors (2014, p. 70) with permission from MIT Press)
thesis is that semantic knowledge is structured by domains defined as sets of integral dimensions. This understanding of domains can be used to analyze semantic development in children. I have presented the central domains involved in children’s cognitive development, in particular with respect to their development of intersubjectivity. I have offered some linguistic evidence supporting the hypothesis that it becomes easier to learn new words within a domain once it has been established.
Acknowledgements I gratefully acknowledge support from (a) the Vagueness, Approximation, and Granularity (VAAG) project coordinated by the Zentrum fur Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft and funded by the European Science Foundation framework LogiCCC, (b) the Swedish Research Council for support under a Senior Individual Grant, and (c) the Linnaeus environment Thinking in Time: Cognition, Communication and Learning.