Brown Bag du 20/06/18 à 11h30 Elena Pagliarini (CBC) Universitat Pompeu Fabra



The acquisition of logical words: insights from disjunction under negation and quantification

In this talk, I will illustrate how children face the challenge of mapping word forms/sentences into meaning trough investigations in two domains of compositional semantics: disjunction in negative sentences and semantically plural arguments.

Investigations of children's understanding of disjunction under negation in different languages (Crain, 2012; Geçkin et al.,2016; Goro & Akiba, 2004; Goro, 2007) reached the conclusion that children start by preferring the subset of the truth-conditions assigned to the negated disjunction according to classical logic, independently from the interpretation assigned by adult speakers of the local language. This pattern of responses has been explained in terms of a principle of language learnability called Semantic Subset Principle (Crain et al. 1994). Turning to the interpretation of sentences with semantically plural arguments, it has been showed that children acquire the distributive property of the quantifier each very late (Brooks & Braine,1996; Drodz et al., 2017; Musolino, 2009; Pagliarini et al., 2012; Rouweler & Holebrandse, 2015; Syrett & Musolino, 2013; van Koster et al., 2017). However, the source of the difficulty with quantifiers such as each and every is still unknown and a unifying account has not been proposed yet.

In my talk, I will outline a series of new studies which show the limits of previous suggested explanations and call for the proposal of new general principles that can account for the acquisition of semantic concepts.