Colorado Research in Linguistics

Document Type

Working Paper


Some think that naming matters, others think it is less important. To young children, however, naming is crucial. In particular, the naming of things by their parents is crucial. Names (words) that the children make up themselves tend to be not as well, and certainly not as widely, understood. Children rely on their parents for naming that is both sufficiently understandable and sufficiently consistent that the child can learn from it. This paper addresses a small portion of the issue of naming conventions employed by parents of young children. Section 1 reviews the literature on basic-level and ad hoc categories and on 'the cooperative mother'. Section 2 discusses the methodology of this study, speaking to the basic approach, categorization of examples, and the data itself. Section 3 presents evidence supporting the extent and the limits of 'the cooperative mother', with the discussion in Section 4. Section 5 presents the conclusions at this stage of the work and suggests avenues for further research.

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