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ERIC Number: EJ1012547
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 21
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 37
ISSN: ISSN-1547-5441
Pointing As a Socio-Pragmatic Cue to Particular vs.Generic Reference
Meyer, Meredith; Baldwin, Dare A.
Language Learning and Development, v9 n3 p245-265 2013
Generic noun phrases, or generics, refer to abstract kind categories ("Dogs" bark) rather than particular individuals ("Those dogs" bark). How do children distinguish these distinct kinds of reference? We examined the role of one socio-pragmatic cue, namely pointing, in producing and comprehending generic versus particular reference. Study 1 demonstrated that parents of preschool-aged children pointed more when referring to particular instances versus generic kinds. Studies 2 and 3 addressed how children interpreted pointing when linguistic cues were ambiguous with respect to the generic versus particular distinction, for example, "They are afraid of raccoons" said in the presence of several dogs, where "they" could refer to the generic category ("dogs") or a particular set ("the/those dogs"). Results indicate only a partial socio-pragmatic sensitivity to pointing's role in marking particular reference. They additionally speak to issues related to children's acquisition of generics and their expectations regarding transmission of generic knowledge. (Contains 4 figures, 3 tables, and 1 footnote.)
Psychology Press. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A