Piaget's Nominal Realism From a Linguistic Point of View

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Nominal Realism connotes the belief that “every object has received a primordial and absolute name, which is somehow part of its being”. Following experimental results, Piaget and other psychologists claimed that such a phenomenon is observed with children during their “second childhood period”. This paper challenges these claims about Nominal Realism. Instead, it suggests that this is a linguistic phenomenon and should be studied as such. In terms of linguistics and the philosophy of language, Nominal Realism is a referring instance and excludes any nonreferring (i.e., sense) properties. The sense property synonymy was chosen to carry out a field study in which use was made of a modification of the “semantic differential” in combination with pictorial stimuli to test the grasp of synonymy in children during their second childhood period. By introducing linguistic terms, methods, and tools, we gain methodological validity and objective results, suitable for comparison. The conclusion is that children of the second childhood period acquire sense‐properties—synonymy—hence refuting the psychologists’ claims about Nominal Realism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-598
Number of pages44
JournalLanguage Learning
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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