Abstract/Details

Acquisition of scalar implicatures


2007 2007

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Abstract (summary)

I explore first language acquisition of scalar implicatures as a class of meanings. I begin by proposing a question-under-discussion (QUD) account of scalar implicatures in which the role of Relevance in the generation of scalar implicatures is clearly articulated. Next, I propose an account of how the child constructs scales that SIs are based on, and suggest ways in which the child's semantic and pragmatic knowledge unrelated to scales, such as that of polarity, aids her in constructing scales.

My experimental results did not support the theoretical distinction between Horn and pragmatic scales that is often made in the literature; I found that the time-line of the acquisition of SIs is governed not by this theoretical distinction between classes of scales but rather by the idiosyncratic challenges that individual scales pose.

I provide experimental evidence and theoretical arguments in favor of the Context-based approach to SI computation on which SIs are computed by going through the steps of pragmatic reasoning, and against the Default approach on which SIs are computed by default. I found that children start out by computing SIs only in contexts where they are relevant, which is predicted on the Context-based but not on the Default approach.

Another theme is the instantiation of Principle B in the child's grammar, which I consider in the context of how the child constructs scales of the form . SIs based on these scales rule out the coreference reading in Principle B environments (B-contexts). I argue that constructing these scales is a necessary step the child goes through in learning to interpret B-contexts and Exceptional Coreference Contexts and present an experiment on the two types of contexts.

The overarching goal of this work is to show that picking up on oppositions between lexical items, and arriving at pragmatic and syntactic generalizations about these lexical items on the basis of these contrasts, is one of the major learning mechanisms involved in first language acquisition.

Indexing (details)


Subject
Linguistics
Classification
0290: Linguistics
Identifier / keyword
Language, literature and linguistics, Pragmatics, Principle B, Scalar implicatures, Scale, Second language acquisition
Title
Acquisition of scalar implicatures
Author
VerBuk, Anna
Number of pages
220
Publication year
2007
Degree date
2007
School code
0118
Source
DAI-A 68/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
ISBN
9780549332879
Advisor
Roeper, Thomas
University/institution
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Degree
Ph.D.
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Language
English
Document type
Dissertation/Thesis
Dissertation/thesis number
3290054
ProQuest document ID
304838769
Copyright
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
http://search.proquest.com/docview/304838769
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