Encyclopedia of Language and Literacy Development
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Glossary (A - Z)
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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
A non-invasive imaging method using magnetic fields and radio waves to create images of the inside of the body.
Magnitude
In mathematics, involves the ability to compare small and large sets of objects and identify which set is larger or smaller (Baroody, 1992).
Main verb
A word used to express actions, events or states of being (e.g., runs, eats) and the most important verb in the sentence.
Mand
A verbal production, including requests for an item or information, through which the speaker can get their wants and needs met by listeners. 
Marker
In grammar, a morpheme, or unit of meaning in a word, that indicates some grammatical function such as number (e.g., in 'cats' the morpheme '-s' is a plural marker).
Marker (genetics)
An indicator or characteristic trait of a disorder that facilitates differential diagnosis (the process of distinguishing one disorder from other, similar disorders).
Mathematic learning disabilities
Affects the learner's ability to perform basic mathematical operations. People with mathematic learning disabilities do not understand the relationship between numbers and the quantities they represent. They do not understand math concepts and real-world math applications such as in telling time.
Mathematical competence
The ability to perform and understand numerical operations with an adequate degree of success.
Mathematical equivalence
The understanding that both sides of an equation with an equal sign in it are equivalent (Perry, Church, & Goldin-Meadow, 1988).
Mean
The average of a set of values.
Mean Length of Utterance (MLU)
Average length of oral expressions as measured by a representative sampling of oral language; usually obtained by counting the number of morphemes per utterance and dividing by the number of utterances (Nicolosi, Harryman, & Kresheck, 2004). 
Meaning theory
A learning theory that makes numbers sensible by emphasizing relationships within the subject studied to promote meaningful memorization of skills (e.g., Brownell, 1938).
Mediated learning
Also known as guided learning; the student is able to explore and discover concepts independently with the help of an environment constructed by a professional.
Memory coding
Refers to the brain's ability to store and retain information.
Mental number line
A mental picture of a horizontal line on which numbers are represented in order from left to right.
Meta-analysis
A study that statistically analyzes data by pooling results from a number of studies that have used similar methods to investigate similar topics; the data is re-analyzed as a whole and used to make stronger conclusions based on the results.
Meta-analytic methods
A means of statistically analyzing data by pooling results from a number of studies that have used similar methods, re-analyzing the data as a whole, and making stronger conclusions based on these results.
Metacognitive
Pertaining to the awareness and understanding of how one thinks and uses strategies during reading and writing.
Metacognitive abilities
The knowledge of how, when, and why to use specific strategies or resources.
Metacognitive strategies
Learning strategies that involve planning and directing learning at a general level.
Metalinguistic
The ability to think about and reflect on the structure of language.
Metaphonological assessment
The evaluation of ability to detect sound structures of words independent of their meaning.
Metathesize
The rearranging of sounds in a word, usually refers to two adjacent sounds (e.g., producing 'spaghetti' as 'pasketti').
Methodological approach
The process by which a study is undertaken, subjects are examined, and results are analysed and compiled.
Mid and back high and low vowels
The articulatory features that distinguish vowel sounds (e.g., height, backness, lip rounding).
Middle frontal regions
An area at the front of the brain, located in the frontal lobe; thought to be responsible for speech production.
Middle voice patterns
In some languages, occurs as another category between the active and passive voice.
Minimal pair
Two words in a language that only differ by one sound (e.g., 'pad' and 'bad').
Minimal pair activities
Activities that help the child discover the difference between and communicative function of different speech sounds.
Mnemonics
A learning technique that aids memory; one can use mnemonic rhymes, phrases and illustrations to help remember various facts and numbers.
Modal auxiliary
A type of verb used to express tense and mood (e.g., 'may', 'can', 'shall', 'will', 'must').
Modality
A certain type of information and/or the representation or format in which the information is stored.
Modals
See modal auxiliary.
Monolingual
A person who speaks only one language.
Monosyllabic
Having only one syllable.
Monozygotic twins
Twins that developed from the same egg (ovum), and are thus identical and have the same genotype.
Mora-timed
A type of language rhythm in which each mora (phonological unit determining syllable weight) is equal. Japanese is a mora-timed language.
Morpheme
The smallest meaningful linguistic units within a word (e.g., the word 'preheated' has three morphemes: 'pre-' 'heat' and '-ed').
Morphological
Of or pertaining to the identification, analysis and description of the structure of words.
Morphological awareness
The ability to break words into their individual morphemes (smallest meaningful units) and derive meaning from them (e.g., ‘projects’ breaks into ‘project’ and the plural –s, meaning there is more than one project).
Morphological constraints
Parameters pertaining to the identification, analysis and description of the structure of words.
Morphological structure
Pertaining to the smallest meaningful units of a language (morphemes) and their possible combinations in a language.
Morphology
In grammar, the identification, analysis and description of the structure of words; the patterns of how words are formed from prefixes, roots and suffixes and how words are related to each other.
Morphology (of the brain)
Refers to form, structure and configuration of the outward appearance as well as the form and structure of the internal parts like bones and organs.
Morphophonological
Pertaining to the phonological structure of morphemes.
Morphosyllabic
A writing system where some characters represent sounds and other characters represent meaning, or an entire word.
Morphosyntactic
The language structure and organization of words in phrases and sentences that influence morphological forms in speech. For example, “The wind is strong and cold” and “Did you wind the clock?”
Morphosyntactic phenotype
The observable characteristics of DNA as they relate to morphosyntactic development, meaning the child's acquisition of morphology and syntax and observable application of these rules.
Morphosyntax
The rules governing the inflectional derivations of words (e.g., 'visit', 'visited', 'visiting', 'visits', etc).
Motor planning
The ability to plan and execute physical tasks.
Multidialectical
Being exposed to multiple different dialects of the same language.
Multidimensionality
Having or involving several dimensions or aspects.
Multivariate
Having or involving more than one variable at the same time.