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Two Types of Logical Structure in Child Ianguage

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Authors
Lee, Thomas Hun-tak
Issue Date
2002
Publisher
Institute for Cognitive Science, Seoul National University
Citation
Journal of cognitive science, Vol.3 No.2, pp. 155-182
Abstract
In this paper, we investigate the emergence of two types of logical elements
in child language, nominal quantifiers and focus particles. Quantifier noun
phrases such as those in a sentence like A nurse looks after every child exhibit
both the subject wide scope and inverse scope readings which are represented by
means of operator-variable structures subject to conditions on binding. The
relative scope of quantifiers is determined not only by syntactic structure, but by
quantifier type and thematic roles. Focus particles like also and only partition the
semantic structure of the sentence into a presupposition and an assertion. They
induce bound variable structures by creating a variable in the focus position,
resulting in an open sentence. First, we examine the availability of scopedependent
interpretations in Mandarin-speaking children, as well as their
sensitivity to the scopal effects of quantifier type and thematic hierarchy. Clear
theta role effects were found among all age groups, beginning from the fouryear-
olds, in accordance with the thematic hierarchy. Children were sensitive to the distinction between mei ("every") and suoyou ("all") in their assignment of
inverse scope. Our data can be interpreted as evidence in support of approaches
to scope that crucially incorporate quantifier type into the structural
representation. Secondly, we explore the use of focus particles in two-to threeyear-
old children whose first language is Cantonese, with both additive and
restrictive focus signaled by means of preverbal adverbs and sentence final
particles. It was found that additive focus particles were not produced before
two years of age, but began to be used before three years old. Restrictive focus
markers did not begin to be used spontaneously and productively until shortly
after 3;0, emerging later than the additive focus markers, confirming the greater
complexity of universal quantification relative to existential quantification. The
two studies point to the early emergence of logical structures in children's
language.
ISSN
1598-2327
Language
English
URI
https://hdl.handle.net/10371/70737
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College of Humanities (인문대학)Institute for Cognitive Science (인지과학연구소)Journal of Cognitive Science (인지과학작업)Journal of Cognitive Science (인지과학작업) vol.03 (2002)
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