Encyclopedia of Language and Literacy Development
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Glossary (A - Z)
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Canonical babbling
A form of babbling that consists of consonant-vowel combinations and occurs during the first year of life.
Cardinal number knowledge
Knowledge of numbers that can be used to indicate quantity but not order (e.g., 1, 23, 50).
Cardinality
The understanding that the last number uttered when counting a set of objects indicates the quantity of the total set of objects (Baroody, 1992).
Causal
A type of phrase that includes a reason or basis for the action or situation in the sentence using a causal connective (e.g., Because, so).
Causal determinates
An influencing or determining element or factor.
Causative pattern
A property of verbs or a set of verb inflections indicating the relation between the subject and the action expressed by the verb, used when we do not carry out an action ourselves, but are responsible for the action being performed. (e.g., He had his eyes checked last week).
Cerebellum
A brain region located in the back of the head between the cerebrum and the brain stem. It plays an important role in the integration of sensory perception, coordination and motor control.
Cerebral palsy
A term used to describe a group of non-progressive disorders that affect body movement and muscle coordination.
Child language disorders and delays
Any difficulty with the production or reception of language, regardless of environment.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech
A motor speech disorder in which a child has difficulty coordinating muscle movements required to produce sounds and coordinate combinations of sounds.
Chronological age
A person's age measured from the year, month and day they were born.
Clauses
A grammatical term for a pair or group of words that include a subject and a verb and form part of a sentence.
Clear tonic accent
A stress or emphasis produced by an increase in pitch.
Cleft palate
A gap or fissure in the roof of the mouth present at birth.
CLOZE procedure
A word is missing from a sentence or pair of sentences and the student must produce the missing word using contextual information.
Cluster reduction
The simplification of consonant clusters (e.g., clown becomes cown).
Code-switching
Using different forms of expression depending on the listener and situation (e.g., talking to a teacher vs. talking to a friend).
Codified
Written down as the accepted form for the purpose of establishing a standard correct form.  
Cognate languages
Languages that have a common ancestor (e.g., English and Dutch).  
Cognate pairs
Words that are related in meaning and form to words in another language such as mother (English), moeder (Dutch), moder (Danish), mater (Latin), and matr (Sanskrit). Each of these words is similar because they have come from the same source.
Cognition
The processing of information within the brain. Includes processes such as awareness, perception, reasoning, memory and judgement.
Cognitive
Of or relating to processes of the brain such as awareness, perception, reasoning, memory and judgement.
Cognitive ability
The ability to process information within the brain.
Cognitive mechanisms
The ways in which the brain moves and processes information.
Cognitive neuroscience
The area of neuroscience (the study of the brain and central nervous system) that focuses on understanding perception, action, attention, memory, and language.
Cognitive processes
The performance of some composite cognitive activity; an operation that affects mental contents; the process of thinking.
Cognitive psychology
A discipline within psychology that investigates the internal mental processes of thought such as visual processing, memory, problem solving, or language.
Cognitive resources
The resources available to draw upon to process information within the brain.
Colloquial (dialect)
A subcategory of a language, often spoken in a specific country or region, which may be considered less formal than the standard form. 
Colloquial citation
In Arabic, the word that adult speakers of Arabic produce if they are asked “How do you say x in your dialect?” For example, if they are asked “How do you say ‘go’ in your dialect?” they will produce ruuħ (for most colloquial Arabic dialects). 
Communicative competence
The ability to use language accurately, effectively and appropriately when communicating with others.
Comorbidity
Two or more conditions occurring at the same time.
Complementation
The grammatical relation of a word or phrase to a predicate (verb).
Compound word
When two separate words are joined together to make a new word (e.g., greenhouse).
Comprehensive standardized assessment
A series of tests that are administered and scored in a predetermined, standard manner.
Computational ability
The ability to undestand and process numbers within the brain.
Computational procedures
Procedures involving mathematical calculation.
Conceptual development
How children’s understanding of the world develops. For example, children develop a conception of themselves as individuals, of other people as members of their family or people outside their family, of physical laws (if you drop a glass, it breaks), and so on.
Conceptual knowledge
Children's understanding of the underlying structures and relationships of abstract ideas or mental symbols as in mathematics.
Conceptual structure
A structure or model for organizing concepts, abstract ideas or mental symbols as in mathematics.
Concurrent
Occuring at the same time.
Conditional clauses
A grammatical term for a pair or group of words that include a hypothesis or condition (e.g., If you leave the stove on, the food will burn).
Confidence interval (CI)
Used to indicate the probablity that a number will be within an upper and lower limit. It is usually reported as 95% CI, which is the range of values within which we can be 95% sure that the true value for the whole population lies.
Conflate
Combine into one.
Conjunctions
Connect words, phrases and sentences together and show how they are related (e.g., 'and', 'but', 'or').
Consequential validity
The social consequences of using a particular test for a particular purpose; the interpretation of the findings from a particular test may result in specific course of actions that can have social consequences. 
Consonant cluster
A group of consonants which have no intervening vowel and retain their individual sounds (e.g., /sp/ and /rts/ in the word 'sports').
Consonantal inventories
The size of the set of consonant sounds used in a given language (e.g., English has 24 individual consonant sounds in its inventory).
Constrained semantically
Limitations in the selection of words or structures imposed by meaning or context.
Construct validity
The extent to which a test or scale measures the variable or construct that it is supposed to be measuring.
Constructivist theories
In the view of constructivists, the role of teachers is not so much to instruct directly as to provide children with a practical and social context in which they can make their own discoveries (e.g., Cobb, Yackell, & Wood, 1992).
Content analysis
A quantitative method of analyzing written words (e.g., publications, tests, etc.).
Content validity
The extent to which the content of a particular test reflects the knowledge needed for that topic area.  
Corpus callosum
The large band of nerve cells that connects the left and right side of the brain (hemisphere) and allows them to communicate and coordinate activities.
Correlation
The degree to which one variable is related to another. Used to look for relationships and the strength of the relationship between variables. Does not determine cause or the direction of the relationship.
Correlation coefficient
A statistical measurement that indicates the strength of the relationship between two variables.
Correlational research
When researchers measure two variables, e.g., students' word reading proficiency in L1 and the same students' word reading proficiency in L2, to determine whether one predicts the other.  If a high score on one variable predicts a high score on the second variable, and conversely a low score on one predicts a low score on the other, the two variables are said to be correlated.  It is important to note that correlation does not mean causation; that is, if two variables are correlated, it is incorrect to infer that one causes the other. It is possible that both are the result of a common reading ability that is then reflected in proficient reading in both L1 and L2.  Correlational research can be contrasted with experimental research, which is more suited to establishing cause and effect relationships.
Correlational studies
Scientific studies in which a researcher investigates associations and the strength of relationships between variables. Does not determine cause.
Cortex
The outer layer of the brain that consists of enfolded layers.
Cortical gray matter
The layer of unmyelinated neurons that form the outer layer of the brain.
Cortical regions
Any of various regions of the cerebral cortex.
Criterion-related evidence
Involves a high correlation between performance on a test and performance on related or relevant criterion not in the test.
Criterion/Criteria referenced
The process of evaluating (and grading) the learning of students against a set of pre-specified criteria.
Cronbach Alpha coefficient
In statistics, a number between 0 and 1 that is an estimate of the internal consistency or reliability of a test.
Cross sectional study
A study that examines a specific variable within a population at a specific point in time.
Cross-linguistic study
A study conducted to examine patterns or outcomes across speakers of different languages.