Browsing Linguistics by Subject "acquisition"
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- ItemEveryone Knows, Therefore Every Child Knows: An Investigation of Logico-semantic Competence in Child Language(2006-07-14) Minai, Utako; Lidz, Jeffrey L.; Pietroski, Paul M.; Linguistics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)This dissertation discusses children's understanding of semantic contribution of the universal quantifier every and its interactions with negation from a logico-semantic perspective. The universal quantifier every evokes an asymmetric entailment pattern in its first and second arguments (e.g., Ladusaw, 1979), which influences both sentential meanings and inferential relations among them. Whereas several studies have revealed children's sophisticated ability to compose the meanings of sentences containing every (e.g., Gualmini 2005), far less is known about whether children's knowledge about every can be extended to the level of meaning comparison, i.e., to the computation of the inferential relations among every-sentences. We thus investigate whether children are able to apply their knowledge about every to the calculation of the inference relations between every-sentences. In particular, this dissertation aims to experimentally examine children's ability to evaluate the inferences between every-sentences. We first report an experiment featuring the Truth Value Judgment Task (e.g., Crain and Thornton 1998), reconfirming children's adult-like ability to compose individual sentence meanings involving every. We then introduce two novel experimental methodologies, the Prediction-Rephrase Task and the Demand-Fulfillment Task, designed to assess children's ability to evaluate inferences between the entailing and entailed sentences. Three experiments utilizing these new tasks demonstrate that children's highly sophisticated knowledge about every is appropriately applied in comparing meaning relations involving every across-propositionally. Additionally, we present experiments that reveal children's adult-like knowledge regarding the semantic interaction between every and negation (e.g., Ludlow 2002) in both composing and comparing sentential meanings; these findings provide the evidence showing children's adult-like linguistic representations of the sentences, in which the structural relation between every and negation determines the patterns of inferences. Taken together, these studies demonstrate children's adult-like knowledge regarding the semantics of every that is applied both in the composition and comparison of sentential meanings, as well as their adult-like knowledge about the interaction between every and negation. In addition, our development of the two new experimental methodologies has made possible further steps toward the full understanding of semantic competence in child language, not only at the level of meaning composition but also at the level of meaning comparison.
- ItemMultiple Interrogatives: Syntax, Semantics, and Learnability(2006-08-09) Grebenyova, Lydia; Lasnik, Howard; Linguistics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)The dissertation consists of theoretical and experimental studies of multiple interrogatives (i.e., sentences containing more than one wh-phrase, like Who bought what?). First, I examine the status of Superiority effects in contexts with and without subject-aux(iliary) inversion cross-linguistically. The relevant contrast from English is between Who bought what?, ??What did who buy?, and *I wonder what who bought., where (*) indicates a greater degree of unacceptability by native speakers than (??). I argue that the presence of subject-aux inversion in main clauses in English is responsible for the given asymmetry, and I attribute the degraded status of ??What did who buy? to the independent semantic properties of questions. Next, I explore the semantic properties of multiple interrogatives in detail. I develop an analysis that does not rely on covert wh-movement, relying instead on the syntactic position of the Question morpheme. I also explore the nature of complex wh-phrases (e.g., what boy, which book). I propose that choice functions are part of complex wh-phrases but not bare wh-phrases. I then explore the behavior of multiple interrogatives under Sluicing (i.e., clausal ellipsis). I observe that, in Slavic, it is possible to have multiple wh-phrases as well as focused referential expressions as remnants of sluicing. Based on this data, I argue that clausal ellipsis is licensed by focus in general. I also explore the apparent Superiority effects under sluicing in Russian and Polish and conclude that those are, in fact, parallelism effects, and not minimality effects. Finally, I present the results of several language acquisition studies on at what age and how English-, Russian-, and Malayalam- speaking children acquire the language-specific syntactic and semantic properties of multiple interrogatives, given the limited evidence in the input. I report the results of the corpus studies of parental speech with respect to the frequency of occurrence of multiple interrogatives, as well as the results of the studies, where multiple interrogatives were elicited from children and adults in specific contexts. I conclude that young children acquire syntax and semantics of multiple interrogatives quite successfully. I then discuss what evidence in the input they might be using.
- ItemPragmatic computation in language acquisition: evidence from disjunction and conjunction in negative context(2008-08-29) Jing, Chunyuan; Lidz, Jeffery; Linguistics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)This dissertation discusses how pragmatic factors contribute to children's behavior in interpreting scopally ambiguous forms. In particular, we look at children's interpretation of negated sentences involving disjunction in the object (NegDisjunction). Languages like English and Chinese allow scope interaction between negation and disjunction of this kind of strings and thus two corresponding interpretations: the narrow scope disjunction interpretation (the NSD, meaning "neither"), thus the wide scope disjunction interpretation (the WSD, meaning "not this or not that"); but languages like Japanese only allow the WSD. Previous studies found out that children of different languages accessed the NSD instead of the WSD given "not this or not that" scenarios (e.g., Crain, Gualmini & Meroni 2000; Goro & Akiba 2004a; Jing, Crain & Hsu 2005) and concluded that preschool children systematically lack the WSD in their grammar. However, given the fact that the WSD is pragmatically more complex than the NSD, and the well documented observations that children's immature capacity in pragmatic computation sometimes masks their linguistic competence (e.g., Gualmini 2004; Musolino & Lidz 2006), the findings in previous studies could reveal children's strong preference toward the NSD rather than their lack of the WSD. Four main experiments, which aim to test the hypothesis that children's grammar can generate the WSD and that children can access this interpretation when the relevant pragmatic computation is facilitated, are reported in this dissertation. During various experimental manipulations designed to facilitate children's pragmatic computation, we observed that children accessed the normally dispreferred WSD more often, when the "not this or not that" meaning was made more directly relevant in the context, when explicit disambiguating information was present in the discourse, after they were trained to be more sensitive to the "not this or not that" aspect of the context, and after they immediately experienced the use of certain alternative form (NegConjunction) to express the "neither" meaning (corresponding to the NSD of NegDisjunction). The findings in these experiments reveal children's hidden grammatical knowledge of the WSD and highlight the role of pragmatic computation in the acquisition of meaning.
- ItemWhat the PCC tells us about “abstract” agreement, head movement, and locality(Ubiquity Press, 2019-01-24) Preminger, OmerBased on the cross- and intra-linguistic distribution of Person Case Constraint (PCC) effects, this paper shows that there can be no agreement in ϕ-features (person, number, gender/noun-class) which systematically lacks a morpho-phonological footprint. That is, there is no such thing as “abstract” ϕ-agreement, null across the entire paradigm. Applying the same diagnostic to instances of clitic doubling, we see that these do involve syntactic agreement. This cannot be because clitic doubling is agreement; it behaves like movement (and unlike agreement) in a variety of respects. Nor can this be because clitic doubling, qua movement, is contingent on prior agreement—since the claim that all movement depends on prior agreement is demonstrably false. Clitic doubling requires prior agreement because it is an instance of non-local head movement, and movement of X0 to Y0 always requires a prior syntactic relationship between Y0 and XP. In local head movement (the kind that is already permitted under the Head Movement Constraint), this requirement is trivially satisfied by (c-)selection. But in non-local cases, agreement must fill this role.