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Children's comprehension of distributive universal quantification

Drozd, K., van der Lely, H. K. J. & Montalto, R., Oct-2017, In : Lingua. 198, p. 89-109 21 p.

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  • Children's comprehension of distributive universal quantification

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DOI

Our study explores why children are prone to assign a wider range of interpretations to sentences with distributive universal quantifiers each and everythan adults. Musolino (2009) proposed that children are more permissive than adults because they are prone to assign quantifier spreading interpretations to universally quantified sentences. Our results support the alternative hypothesis that children are more permissive because they are prone to assign cumulative interpretations to universally quantified sentences in a wider range of contexts than adults. Our results reveal that both children and adults assign cumulative interpretations to sentences with universally quantified objects (Three cowboys are pulling every horse), but children also tend to assign cumulative interpretations to sentences with universally quantified subjects (Every cowboy is pulling two horses). We show that children perform similarly with sentences with universally quantified NPs and sentences with numerical NPs (Three cowboys are pulling two horses). We argue that children are more permissive than adults because they are less likely than adults to perceive singular subject-verb agreement as a cue to distributive interpretation. We present a formal semantic model to explain our findings and discuss the implications of our model for recent acquisition research. (C) 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-109
Number of pages21
JournalLingua
Volume198
Publication statusPublished - Oct-2017

    Keywords

  • Distributivity, Universal quantification, Language acquisition, Quantifier spreading, ACQUISITION, AGREEMENT

ID: 100369593