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Whose side are they on? Children's interpretation of perspective-dependent prepositions

Hukker, V. & Hendriks, P., Dec-2017, In : Linguistics in the Netherlands. 34, 1, p. 63-76 14 p.

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DOI

Spatial prepositions express relations between objects in space. A subset of spatial prepositions is ambiguous due to the different perspectives from which these spatial relations can be considered. The ability to consider another person’s perspective is still developing in children. This study investigates how Dutch-speaking children (mean age 10;1) and adults interpret perspective-dependent spatial prepositions uttered by a speaker. We found that adults took the speaker’s perspective in a third of the cases, whereas children did so in a sixth of the cases. No differences in interpretation emerged between prepositions in assertions and requests, although these different speech acts reflect different speaker intentions. In general, children performed like adults, but less often took the speaker’s perspective with naast compared to voor and achter in assertions. We conclude that 10-year-olds can take another person’s perspective when interpreting spatial prepositions, but, like adults, only do so in a minority of cases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-76
Number of pages14
JournalLinguistics in the Netherlands
Volume34
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2017

    Keywords

  • Language development, perspective-taking, egocentric perspective, other-centric perspective, reference frame, spatial prepositions

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