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ERIC Number: EJ863557
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Feb
Pages: 23
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0010-0285
Inference and Exact Numerical Representation in Early Language Development
Barner, David; Bachrach, Asaf
Cognitive Psychology, v60 n1 p40-62 Feb 2010
How do children as young as 2 years of age know that numerals, like "one," have exact interpretations, while quantifiers and words like "a" do not? Previous studies have argued that only numerals have exact lexical meanings. Children could not use scalar implicature to strengthen numeral meanings, it is argued, since they fail to do so for quantifiers [Papafragou, A., & Musolino, J. (2003). "Scalar implicatures: Experiments at the semantics-pragmatics interface." "Cognition," 86, 253-282]. Against this view, we present evidence that children's early interpretation of numerals does rely on scalar implicature, and argue that differences between numerals and quantifiers are due to differences in the availability of the respective scales of which they are members. Evidence from previous studies establishes that (1) children can make scalar inferences when interpreting numerals, (2) children initially assign weak, non-exact interpretations to numerals when first acquiring their meanings, and (3) children can strengthen quantifier interpretations when scalar alternatives are made explicitly available. (Contains 4 figures and 4 tables.)
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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