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ERIC Number: EJ780688
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Oct
Pages: 29
Abstractor: Author
ISSN: ISSN-1048-9223
A Developmental Investigation of Processing Costs in Implicature Production
Pouscoulous, Nausicaa; Noveck, Ira A.; Politzer, Guy; Bastide, Anne
Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, v14 n4 p347-375 Oct 2007
Much developmental work has been devoted to "scalar implicatures." These are implicitly communicated propositions linked to relatively weak terms (consider how "Some" pragmatically implies "Not all") that are more likely to be carried out by adults than by children. Children tend to retain the linguistically encoded meaning of these terms (wherein "Some" is compatible with "All"). In three experiments, we gauge children's performance with scalars while investigating four factors that can have an effect on implicature production: (i) the role of (the presence or absence of) distractor items; (ii) the nature of the task (verbal judgments versus action-based judgments); (iii) the choice of scalar expression (the French quantifier "quelques" versus "certains"); and (iv) the type of scale that contextualizes the weak utterance (the affirmative "All" versus the negative "None"). Experiment 1 replicated earlier findings showing that 9-year-olds are more likely than adults to consider as true statements such as "Some turtles are in the boxes" (uttered when all turtles are in the boxes) while employing the quantifier "certains" in a truth evaluation task containing multiple distractor items. The task in Experiment 2 increased implicature production across all ages (4-, 5-, and 7-year-olds as well as adults) but maintained the developmental effect while using "quelques" in an action-based task containing no distractor items. Experiment 3 showed that 9-year-olds are more likely to produce implicatures with "quelques" than they are with "certains" in the action task while adults are not affected by the choice of term. Overall, these results identify seemingly harmless task features that can prevent even older children (9-year-olds) from carrying out implicatures (e.g., through the inclusion of distractors) while also showing how implicature production among even young children (4- to 5-year-olds) can be facilitated by task features (e.g., the use of an action task) and withoutthe introduction of special training. (Contains 5 tables, 1 figure, and 13 footnotes.)
Lawrence Erlbaum. 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: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Ivry-sur-Seine (France).
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: France