ERIC Number: EJ1079068
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 46
Do Adults Show an Effect of Delayed First Language Acquisition When Calculating Scalar Implicatures?
Davidson, Kathryn; Mayberry, Rachel I.
Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, v22 n4 p329-354 2015
Language acquisition involves learning not only grammatical rules and a lexicon but also what people are intending to convey with their utterances: the semantic/pragmatic component of language. In this article we separate the contributions of linguistic development and cognitive maturity to the acquisition of the semantic/pragmatic component of language by comparing deaf adults who had either early or late first exposure to their first language (ASL). We focus on the particular type of meaning at the semantic/pragmatic interface called "scalar implicature", for which preschool-age children typically differ from adults. Children's behavior has been attributed to either their not knowing appropriate linguistic alternatives to consider or to cognitive developmental differences between children and adults. Unlike children, deaf adults with late language exposure are cognitively mature, although they never fully acquire some complex linguistic structures and thus serve as a test for the role of language in such interpretations. Our results indicate an overall high performance by late learners, especially when implicatures are not based on conventionalized items. However, compared to early language learners, late language learners compute fewer implicatures when conventionalized linguistic alternatives are involved (e.g., <all, some>). We conclude that (i) in general, Gricean pragmatic reasoning does not seem to be impacted by delayed first language acquisition and can account for multiple quantity implicatures, but (ii) the creation of a scale based on lexical items can lead to ease in alternative creation that may be advantageously learned early in life and that this may be one of several factors contributing to differences between adults and children on scalar implicature tasks.
Descriptors: Language Acquisition, Semantics, Pragmatics, Deafness, American Sign Language, Adults, Comparative Analysis, Cognitive Development, Language Role, Linguistic Performance, Learning Processes, Form Classes (Languages), Task Analysis, Language Tests, Accuracy, Statistical Analysis, Phrase Structure
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California