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ERIC Number: EJ861723
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Nov
Pages: 17
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 53
ISSN: ISSN-0012-1649
Semantic Meaning and Pragmatic Interpretation in 5-Year-Olds: Evidence from Real-Time Spoken Language Comprehension
Huang, Yi Ting; Snedeker, Jesse
Developmental Psychology, v45 n6 p1723-1739 Nov 2009
Recent research on children's inferencing has found that although adults typically adopt the pragmatic interpretation of "some" (implying "not all"), 5- to 9-year-olds often prefer the semantic interpretation of the quantifier (meaning possibly "all"). Do these failures reflect a breakdown of pragmatic competence or the metalinguistic demands of prior tasks? In 3 experiments, the authors used the visual-world eye-tracking paradigm to elicit an implicit measure of adults' and children's abilities to generate scalar implicatures. Although adults' eye-movements indicated that adults had interpreted "some" with the pragmatic inference, children's looks suggested that children persistently interpreted "some" as compatible with "all" (Experiment 1). Nevertheless, both adults and children were able to quickly reject competitors that were inconsistent with the semantics of "some"; this confirmed the sensitivity of the paradigm (Experiment 2). Finally, adults, but not children, successfully distinguished between situations that violated the scalar implicature and those that did not (Experiment 3). These data demonstrate that children interpret quantifiers on the basis of their semantic content and fail to generate scalar implicatures during online language comprehension. (Contains 1 table and 10 figures.)
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Early Childhood Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A