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Do children derive exact meanings pragmatically? Evidence from a dual morphology language
David Barner, Longlong Wang, Dimitrios Skordos, Amanda Saksida, Jessica Sullivan, Rok Žaucer, Franc Marušič, 2021, original scientific article

Abstract: Number words allow us to describe exact quantities like sixty-three and (exactly) one. How do we derive exact interpretations? By some views, these words are lexically exact, and are therefore unlike other grammatical forms in language. Other theories, however, argue that numbers are not special and that their exact interpretation arises from pragmatic enrichment, rather than lexically. For example, the word one may gain its exact interpretation because the presence of the immediate successor two licenses the pragmatic inference that one implies “one, and not two”. To investigate the possible role of pragmatic enrichment in the development of exact representations, we looked outside the test case of number to grammatical morphological markers of quantity. In particular, we asked whether children can derive an exact interpretation of singular noun phrases (e.g., “a button”) when their language features an immediate “successor” that encodes sets of two. To do this, we used a series of tasks to compare English-speaking children who have only singular and plural morphology to Slovenian-speaking children who have singular and plural forms, but also dual morphology, that is used when describing sets of two. Replicating previous work, we found that English-speaking preschoolers failed to enrich their interpretation of the singular and did not treat it as exact. New to the present study, we found that 4- and 5-year-old Slovenian-speakers who comprehended the dual treated the singular form as exact, while younger Slovenian children who were still learning the dual did not, providing evidence that young children may derive exact meanings pragmatically.
Found in: ključnih besedah
Summary of found: ... Acquisition of quantity expressions, Acquisition of exactness, Pragmatics...
Keywords: Acquisition of quantity expressions, Acquisition of exactness, Pragmatics of grammatical number, Inferences on quantity, Dual, Slovenian
Published: 13.12.2020; Views: 785; Downloads: 0
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