Children's comprehension of plural predicate conjunction*

Lyn Tieu*, Jacopo Romoli, Eva B. Poortman, Yoad Winter, Stephen Crain

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Previous developmental studies of conjunction have focused on the syntax of phrasal and sentential coordination (Lust, 1977; de Villiers, Tager-Flusberg & Hakuta, 1977; Bloom, Lahey, Hood, Lifter & Fiess, 1980, among others). The present study examined the flexibility of children's interpretation of conjunction. Specifically, when two predicates that can apply simultaneously to a single individual are conjoined in the scope of a plural definite (The bears are big and white), conjunction receives a Boolean, intersective interpretation. However, when the conjoined predicates cannot apply simultaneously to an individual (The bears are big and small), conjunction receives a weaker ‘split’ interpretation (Krifka, 1990; Lasersohn, 1995; Winter, 1996). Our experiments reveal that preschool-aged children are sensitive to both intersective and split interpretations, and can use their lexical and world knowledge of the relevant predicates in order to select an appropriate reading.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-259
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Child Language
Volume45
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018

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