Children's interpretation of disjunction in questions in Japanese

Nobuaki Akagi, Takuya Goro, Rosalind Thornton, Stephen Crain

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


    The present study investigates children's understanding of a yes-no question (YNQ) with a disjunctive phrase (disjP). In English, a question like 'Did the pig eat a carrot or a pepper?' is ambiguous, with both a YNQ interpretation and an alternative question (AltQ) interpretation. The Japanese counterpart, however, can only be interpreted as a YNQ. The aim of this study was to see whether Japanese-speaking children comply with this restriction on the interpretation of 'YNQ+disjP' questions, or tolerate an AltQ interpretation to such questions, as in English. Considering our findings, we conclude that an AltQ interpretation of 'YNQ+disjP' is available to Japanese-speaking children, despite the absence of evidence for this analysis in the primary linguistic data. The findings are interpreted as evidence supporting the continuity hypothesis (Crain and Pietroski 2002).
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationSelected Proceedings of the 4th Conference on Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition North America (GALANA 2010)
    EditorsMihaela Pirvulescu, Maria Cristina Cuervo, Ana T. Perez-Leroux, Jeffrey Steele, Nelleke Strik
    Place of PublicationSomerville, MA, USA
    PublisherCascadilla Proceedings Project
    Number of pages11
    ISBN (Print)9781574734478
    Publication statusPublished - 2011
    EventGenerative Approaches to Language Acquisition North America (4th : 2010) - Toronto, Canada
    Duration: 1 Sep 20103 Sep 2010


    ConferenceGenerative Approaches to Language Acquisition North America (4th : 2010)
    CityToronto, Canada


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