The precocious two-year-old: Status of the lexicon and links to the grammar

Karla K. McGregor, Li Sheng, Bruce Smith

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


This is a study of the lexical and grammatical abilities of 16 lexically precocious talkers. These children, aged 2;0 were compared to their age-matched peers, 22 typical talkers aged 2;0, and their expressive vocabulary-matched peers, 22 typical talkers aged 2;6. Individual differences in children's lexical knowledge at 2;0 were stable - evident in parent report, laboratory observation, and an experimental fast-mapping paradigm. In accordance with the continuity hypothesis, the lexically precocious children were also grammatically precocious, having a greater representation of grammatical types and tokens and more advanced combinatorial language than their typical age-matches. Their grammatical development was very similar to that of their older vocabulary-matched peers. Limits on continuity were highly constrained with no true dissociation between the lexicon and the grammar in 33 cases examined. We conclude that, among two-year-olds, grammatical development is more tightly associated with the size of the lexicon than with chronological age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)563-585
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Child Language
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • General Psychology


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