General programme, activity sheet

Thursday 7 September, 2017 16:30 to 17:00

Oral presentation

Children’s interpretation of epistemic modals in Dutch: a look at hoeven

Speaker: Vincenzo Moscati, Università degli Studi di Siena
Speaker: Luisa Meroni, Universiteit Utrecht

Authors: Luisa Meroni, Loes Koring, Vincenzo Moscati

This paper investigates children’s acquisition of scope assignments by looking at the Dutch necessity modal hoeven. This modal expression encodes polarity restrictions (+NPI) that fix its scope under negation (Iatridou & Zeijlstra 2013), allowing only a weak reading. This makes negative sentences with hoeven an ideal testing ground to check the predictions of the Semantic Subset Principle (Crain, Ni, & Conway 1994). The SSP dictates that in case of potential ambiguity, children initially prefer the strongest interpretation. Thus Dutch kids are predicted to systematically misinterpret sentences with hoeven, assigning it a strong target-inconsistent reading. Our results partially support the predictions of the SSP, but we also found that even if they are amplified in negative weak sentences, children's troubles with epistemic modality extend to other expressions as well. We will discuss our results also in relation to a more general hypotheses on epistemic reasoning i.e. the premature closure hypothesis (Acredolo & Horobin 1987, Ozturk & Papafragou 2014).

Further information:

L1 acquisition - Session II


Other activities in L1 acquisition - Session II

15:00 h. to 15:30 h.

Oral presentation

Querer ‘want’ and dizer ‘tell to’ in EP: obviation and control

Speaker: Filomena Gamas, Universidade de Lisboa
Speaker: Ana Lúcia Santos, Universidade de Lisboa

15:30 h. to 16:00 h.

Oral presentation

Aiming high: children's knowledge of absolute and relative readings of superlatives

Speaker: Lyn Tieu, Macquarie University

16:00 h. to 16:30 h.

Oral presentation

Featural mismatches and the comprehension of relative clauses in French: Comparing gender and number

Speaker: Stephanie Durrleman, Université de Genève