Literature on verb acquisition has mainly focused on lightness and concreteness for verb acquisition whereas the analysis presented here points to an embodied perspective on word learning, examining whether early-learned verbs are associated with distinct parts of the body, and whether early-learned verbs might be more or less associated with parts of the body depending on whether they are abstract or concrete. Three dimensions of abstractness-concreteness were considered: semantic lightness, imageability, and number of associated objects. These factors were also examined in light of the age of acquisition and frequency of the verbs. This study presents evidence that embodiment is an important factor to consider in childrenâs acquisition of verbs, with two major findings: 1) those verbs that are more highly associated with a single region of the body, according to adult judgments, are among the first acquired in vocabulary development; 2) associations with a specific region of the body may be a better predictor of whether a verb is learned early than the concreteness or abstractness of the verb. Taken together, these results suggest that we should further investigate the role of bodily experiences in verb meaning acquisition.
KEYWORDS: body regions, verbs, concrete, abstract, corpus study