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ERIC Number: EJ1155748
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 17
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1048-9223
"Two-Pound Cookies" or "Two Pounds of Cookies": Children's Appreciation of Quantity Expressions
Foushee, Ruthe; Falkou, Naoual; Li, Peggy
Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, v24 n4 p400-416 2017
Inspired by Syrett (2013), three experiments explored children's ability to distinguish "attributives" (e.g., "three-pound strawberries," where MPs as adjectives signal reference to attributes) versus "pseudopartitives" (e.g., "three pounds of strawberries," where MPs combine with "of" to signal part-whole relations). Given the systematic nature of the syntax-semantics mapping, we asked whether children are able to use syntax to interpret how entities are quantified. In Experiment 1, four- and five-year-olds were asked to choose between two characters for the one who was selling appropriate items matching an attributive or pseudopartitive expression. In Experiment 2, children of the same age heard items described with a phrase using either an attributive, a pseudopartitive, "each" ("each weighs three pounds"), or "all together" ("all together they weigh three pounds"). At test, with some items removed, children were asked whether the same phrase applied to the remaining items (e.g., "Does Dora still have "three-pound strawberries?"). Children did not distinguish between attributives and pseudopartitives but did so for "each" and "all together." Experiment 3 extends the age range with a third experimental design. Children heard "each" or "all together" descriptions (e.g., "each strawberry weighs three pounds") and judged, at test, which of two characters "said it better" (i.e., "Mickey says "these are two pounds of strawberries," but Donald says "these are 'two-pound strawberries.'"). Children under 6 were at chance. Together, the three experiments suggest that despite its systematicity, children do not automatically appreciate the mapping between syntax and semantics.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A