This essay focuses on North American children. the noun bias is much more difficult to identify in some other cultural groups
fer to more concrete concepts, and are easier to isolate from the environment than other words, such as verbs, and this is why children learn them first (Gentner, 1982; Gleitman, 1990). To the extent that this is true, we should see evidence of a noun bias everywhere and in every language. The majority of research on the noun bias has been conducted with North Americans, and there is a great deal of evidence that North American children tend to learn nouns much quicker than verbs. However, the noun bias is much more difficult to identify in some other cultural groups, particularly among East Asians. In one study, for example, Chinese toddlers were found to use more verbs than nouns (Tardif, 1996), and in another, there was
among Korean toddlers (Choi & Gopnik, 1995). The noun bias does not appear to be as universal as it was originally supposed. Another study found that when North American college students are asked to guess a word that they couldn’t hear in a conversation between a mother and child, they tended to guess that it was a noun (Lavin, Hall, & Waxman, 2006; also see Gillette, Gleitman, Gleitman, & Lederer, 1999), revealing a noun bias; Chinese-speaking college students, however, did not show this bias. One possible explanation for this cultural difference is not a cultural explanation but a linguistic one. Perhaps there is something about the nature of languages that makes nouns or verbs more salient.
in noun biases simply reflect how various languages highlight nouns and verbs differently. This explanation may prove to be correct, although it still begs the question of why East Asian languages allow for noun or pronoun drops, whereas the English language (and many other Western languages) does not (Kashima & Kashima, 1998). An alternative explanation is that young children learn to communicate about objects differently across cultures. How might a North American mother play with a 1-year-old with a toy, such as a truck? We might expect her to say something like “Look at this truck. It’s a big, strong truck! Look, here’s another truck. It’s a yellow truck. It has black wheels. They can drive fast. Trucks, let’s go to the garage.” Such communications highlights how the truck is separate from its environment