Developmental insights into gappy phenomena

comparing presupposition, implicature, homogeneity, and vagueness

Lyn Tieu, Cory Bill, Jérémy Zehr, Jacopo Romoli, Florian Schwarz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In natural language, we encounter various sentence types that, under certain circumstances, are evaluated as neither true nor false. For instance, it is intuitively difficult to assess the truth value of a sentence whose presupposition is not satisfied in the context. A common theoretical approach is to characterize the status of such sentences with a third value of one kind or another. In this chapter, we consider children’s acquisition of four linguistic phenomena that can give rise to ‘gappy’ judgments that correspond neither to True nor False: scalar implicature, presupposition, homogeneity, and vagueness. We discuss how young children’s interpretations of such sentences can provide insight into how these phenomena should be treated within semantic theories.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSemantics in language acquisition
EditorsKristen Syrett, Sudha Arunachalam
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9789027263605
ISBN (Print)9789027201379
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameTrends in language acquisition research
ISSN (Print)1569-0644


  • scalar implicature
  • presupposition
  • homogeneity
  • vagueness
  • truth value gaps

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    Tieu, L., Bill, C., Zehr, J., Romoli, J., & Schwarz, F. (2018). Developmental insights into gappy phenomena: comparing presupposition, implicature, homogeneity, and vagueness. In K. Syrett, & S. Arunachalam (Eds.), Semantics in language acquisition (Vol. 24, pp. 301-324). (Trends in language acquisition research; Vol. 24). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.