Children employ multiple cues to identify the referent of a novel word. Novel words are often embedded in sentences and children have been shown to use syntactic cues to differentiate between types of words (adjective vs. nouns) and between types of nouns (count vs. mass nouns). In this study, we show that children learning Malay (N = 67), a numeral classifier language, can use syntactic cues to perform even finer‐grained disambiguation–between count nouns. The manipulation of congruence between lexical and syntactic cues reveals a clear developmental trajectory: while 5‐year‐olds use predominantly lexical cues, older children increasingly rely on syntactic cues, such that by 7 years of age, they disambiguate between objects referred to with count nouns using syntactic rather than lexical cues.
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