Children’s interpretation of disjunction in negative sentences

a comparison of Turkish and German

Vasfiye Geçkin*, Rosalind Thornton, Stephen Crain

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

This study investigates the interpretation of disjunction words (English or) in negative sentences by Turkish- and German-speaking children. Both children and adults were asked to judge Turkish/German sentences corresponding to the English sentence “This animal did not eat the carrot or the pepper.” Children acquiring both languages consistently assigned the same interpretation, which can be paraphrased as “This animal did not eat either the carrot or the pepper.” German-speaking adults also consistently assigned this interpretation, whereas Turkish-speaking adults assigned a different interpretation, which can be paraphrased as “It is the carrot or the pepper that this animal did not eat.” The finding that children initially assign the same interpretation across languages, despite difference in the interpretations assigned by adults, is credited to a “subset” principle of language learnability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-212
Number of pages16
JournalLanguage Acquisition
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2018

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