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 journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)

    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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