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Jean Aitchison

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Language: Linguistics · Semiotics · Speech


Jean Aitchison is a Rupert Murdoch Professor of Language and Communication in the Faculty of English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Worcester College, Oxford.

In 1987, she identified three stages that occur during a child's acquisition of vocabulary: labelling, packaging and network building.

1: Labelling: First stage and involves making the link between the sounds of particular words and the objects to which they refer e.g. understanding that “mummy” refers to the child’s mother.

2:Packaging: Entails understanding a word’s range of meaning.

3: Network Building: Involves grasping the connections between words: understanding that some words are opposite in meaning. E.g: understanding the relationship between hypernyms and hyponyms. :

Her main areas of interest include

  • Socio-historical linguistics
  • Language and mind
  • Language and the media

Her main published books include

  • New Media Language (edited with Diana M. Lewis). London and New York.: Routledge.
  • Words in the Mind: An Introduction to the Mental Lexicon. 3rd edition (1st edition 1987). Oxford and New York: Basil Blackwell, 2003.
  • Language Change: Progress or Decay? 3rd edition (1st edition 1981). Cambridge, New York, Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
  • The Articulate Mammal: An Introduction to Psycholinguistics. 4th edition (1st edition 1976). London and New York: Routledge, 1998.
  • The language Web: The Power and Problem of Words. 1996 BBC Reith lectures. Cambridge, New York, Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
  • The Seeds of Speech: Language Origin and Evolution. Cambridge, New York, Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1996. (Also, with new extended introduction, in C.U.P. Canto series, 2000.)
  • Aitchison, J. (1983) The Articulate Marginal (2nd ed.). London: Hutchinson University

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