The Relationship between Comprehension and Production and Its Ontogenesis

  • Robin N. Campbell
  • Terry Bowe Macdonald
  • Julie E. Dockrell


It is a commonplace psycholinguistic observation that comprehension and production are not equivalent functions. In considering the development of these functions in the young child we have evidence that points in several directions, whether we look at phonology, syntax or lexis. In the realm of lexis — to which our observations will be confined — Huttenlocher (1974) and Benedict (1979) have shown that one-year-olds comprehend several words that they do not produce. However, when such words do begin to be produced their ranges of application often exceed the comprehension ranges — a result confirmed by Thomson & Chapman (1977). Although now such words are produced more freely than they are comprehended, it is not said that this development presents a case of production leading comprehension, since in the data so far examined comprehension is conventionally accurate while production is typically overextended. This neatly illustrates the fact that in describing the development of these functions we are dealing with two dinstinct ideals:-
  1. (a)

    coincidence of the ranges of application of a word in comprehension and production, and

  2. (b)

    correspondence of the ranges with the adult range.



Lexical Representation Production Range Comprehension Range Production Block Colour Block 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robin N. Campbell
    • 1
  • Terry Bowe Macdonald
    • 1
  • Julie E. Dockrell
    • 1
  1. 1.University of StirlingScotland UK

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