Publication

Children's Understanding of Distributivity and Adjectives of Comparison

de Koster, A., Spenader, J. & Dotlacil, J. 1-Jun-2017 Proceedings of the 41st annual Boston University Conference on Language Development . LaMendola, M. & Scott, J. (eds.). Cascadilla Press, Vol. 1, p. 373-386 14 p. 30

Research output: ScientificConference contribution

Documents

  • Children's Understanding of Distributivity and Adjectives of Comparison

    Final publisher's version, 609 KB, PDF-document

Links

If an explicit distributive marker like 'each' is present, adults will only allow distributive interpretations. For sentences with plural noun phrase subjects adults will reject distributive readings. Dotlacil (2010) accounts for these differences pragmatically, arguing that plural noun phrases conversationally implicate their collective readings. Young children allow collective and distributive readings with both NP-types, and experiments suggest initially children are unaware that 'each' signals distributivity. How do children become adult–like? The implicature account predicts that children will first learn to restrict explicit distributive markers to distributive readings and only later will begin to reject plural NPs with distributive readings. We investigate this prediction in two truth-value judgment experiments with 114 Dutch children (ages 5-9) and 92 Dutch adults. Study 1 found that correct restriction of 'each' to collective context correlated positively with correct rejection of 'the' in the distributive context. Study 2 studied children's interpretation preference with the distributive adjective of comparison 'different' and sentence internal and sentence external readings. In sentence internal readings, the sentence itself provides the context of the comparison, via a plural licensor (in our case 'each'). In sentence external readings, a comparison is made with a sentence external element mentioned previously in the context. The results of Study 2 indicated that the sentence-internal reading of 'different' is dependent on distributivity and is acquired earlier than the simple distributive judgments of Study 1.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 41st annual Boston University Conference on Language Development
EditorsMaria LaMendola, Jennifer Scott
PublisherCascadilla Press
Pages373-386
Number of pages14
Volume1
ISBN (Print)978-1-57473-076-0
StatePublished - 1-Jun-2017

View graph of relations

ID: 47928351