The Role of Idiomorphs in Emergent Literacy
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Psycholinguistics coined the term idiomorph to describe idiosyncratic invented word-like units that toddlers use to refer to familiar objects during their early language development (Haslett & Samter, 1997; Otto, 2008; Reich, 1986; Scovel, 2004; Werner & Kaplan, 1963). Idiomorphs act as "words" because their meanings and phonetic pronunciations are stable and consistent (Haslett & Samter, 1997). Parents and family members often adopt idiomorphs, which can be intermingled with other words, to encourage their toddlers to communicate with them (Otto, 2008; Reich, 1986). As their language skills develop, children gradually replace the idiomorph with the correct verbal label for the object (Scovel, 2004). While young children have been reported to use idiomorphs in reference to objects, little has been written on how children use idiomorphs to refer to print. Recent research indicates that idiomorphs can play a role in early literacy development. This article summarizes research and provides practical examples using the observations of a young child. Speci? c examples show how parents and early childhood educators can use idiomorphs to develop a child's emergent literacy.
© 2012 Routledge, Taylor & Francis. This is an electronic version of an article published in Childhood Education, Volume 88, Issue 1, 2012, Pages 23-29. Childhood Education is available online at: http://www.tandfonline.com with the open URL of your article.