Covert downward entailment in child English and Japanese

Utako Minai, Takuya Goro, Stephen Crain

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    Abstract

    English and Japanese differ in the interpretation of disjunction in simple negative sentences. However, the contrast vanishes in a ‘covert’ negative entailment created by the focus operator (only/dake). Experiments with English/Japanese children reveal their sensitivity to the interpretive interaction of disjunction with the focus operator, despite their divergent linguistic input. Our results suggest that disjunction is Boolean inclusiveor in both languages, because disjunction in both languages licenses conjunctive entailments under ‘covert’ negation. The findings also empirically support a nativist approach to the acquisition of semantics, with the semantics of natural language disjunction innately specified, rather than learned from experience.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition - North America, Honolulu 2006
    EditorsKamil Ud. Deen, Jun Nomura, Barbara Schulz, Bonnie D. Schwartz
    Place of PublicationUSA
    PublisherUniversity of Connecticut Occasional Papers in Linguistics
    Pages217-228
    Number of pages12
    Publication statusPublished - 2006
    EventConference on Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition North America (1st : 2004) - Honolulu, United States
    Duration: 17 Dec 200420 Dec 2004

    Conference

    ConferenceConference on Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition North America (1st : 2004)
    CountryUnited States
    CityHonolulu
    Period17/12/0420/12/04

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