Scope assignment in child language: Evidence from the acquisition of Chinese

Peng Zhou, Stephen Crain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

In this paper, we investigated how Mandarin-speaking children and adults understand the scope relation between the universal quantifier and negation in sentences like Mei-pi ma dou meiyou tiaoguo liba 'Every horse didn't jump over the fence' and Bushi mei-pi ma dou tiaoguo-le liba 'Not every horse jumped over fence'. We found that Mandarin-speaking children accepted these two types of sentences in both the surface scope and the inverse scope scenarios, whereas Mandarin-speaking adults only permitted them in the surface scope scenarios. The findings of this study, combined with previous research with English-speaking children, invite the conclusion that children start off with a flexible scope relation between the universal quantifier and negation. Children's grammar allows flexibility in the mappings between syntax and semantics.

LanguageEnglish
Pages973-988
Number of pages16
JournalLingua
Volume119
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009

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speaking
language
evidence
scenario
syntax
grammar
flexibility
semantics
Assignment
Child Language
Scenarios
Universal Quantifier
Horse
Negation

Cite this

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Scope assignment in child language : Evidence from the acquisition of Chinese. / Zhou, Peng; Crain, Stephen.

In: Lingua, Vol. 119, No. 7, 07.2009, p. 973-988.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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