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

    3 Citations (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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