Japanese-speaking children's interpretation of sentences containing the focus particle datte even: Conventional implicatures, QUD, and processing limitations : Linguistics Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details

Linguistics

An Interdisciplinary Journal of the Language Sciences

Editor-in-Chief: van der Auwera, Johan


IMPACT FACTOR increased in 2015: 0.763
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 0.872
Rank 78 out of 179 in category Linguistics in the 2015 Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Report/Social Sciences Edition

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2015: 0.496
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2015: 1.099
Impact per Publication (IPP) 2015: 0.689

99,00 € / $149.00 / £75.00*

Online
ISSN
1613-396X
See all formats and pricing
Select Volume and Issue
Loading journal volume and issue information...

Japanese-speaking children's interpretation of sentences containing the focus particle datte even: Conventional implicatures, QUD, and processing limitations

1Fukuoka University

Correspondence address: Faculty of Humanities, Fukuoka University, 8-19-1 Nanakuma, Jonanku, Fukuoka, Japan 814-0180.

Citation Information: Linguistics. Volume 50, Issue 1, Pages 105–151, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: 10.1515/ling-2012-0004, January 2012

Publication History

Received:
2009-10-16
Revised:
2011-04-28

Abstract

This paper investigates Japanese-speaking children's (in)sensitivity to information strength when interpreting sentences containing the focus particle datte even. It examines whether or not their sensitivity is affected by the Question Under Discussion (QUD) and the Felicity Judgment (FJ) task based on the Processing Limitation Hypothesis (PLH; cf. Chierchia et al., The acquisition of disjunction: Evidence for a grammatical view of scalar implicatures: 157168, Cascadilla Press, 2001, Semantic and pragmatic competence in children's and adults' comprehension of or, Palgrave Macmillan, 2004).

Because datte even is not a scalar term, it does not give rise to scalar implicatures (SIs) by constituting a part of scales. Even evokes conventional implicatures. However, an even sentence in context in addition to the conventional implicatures evokes a special case of SI calculated from context-dependent scales, which is pragmatic inferences induced by evens conventional implicatures (i.e., the word's semantic/pragmatic import). The relevant scale (generally) concerns the NP element focused by even and a set of alternatives. Because sentences without even do not evoke any SI, I assume that the relevant implicatures are conventional in nature.

Three experiments were done to examine whether Japanese-speaking children are really (in)capable of calculating conventional implicatures derived from datte sentences. It was found that (i) Children are insensitive to pragmatic anomalies of single infelicitous sentences (Experiments 1 and 2). This inability to detect pragmatic infelicity is consistent with findings about their ability to compute SIs. On the other hand, the adults showed sensitivity to conventional implicatures in all three experiments, which may be taken as evidence that the computation of implicatures derived from datte sentences differs from that of SIs. (ii) Unlike the results reported for SI in Zondervan (Effects of question under discussion and focus on scalar implicatures: 3952, 2007, Experiments on QUD and focus as a contextual constraint on scalar implicature calculation, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), the wh-focus/QUD way of asking questions does not facilitate the children's performance with datte sentences (Experiment 2). (iii) The FJ task improved children's performance (Experiment 3), thus supporting the PLH, which was applied to SI computation (Chierchia et al., Semantic and pragmatic competence in children's and adults' comprehension of or, Palgrave Macmillan, 2004; cf. Reinhart, The processing cost of reference-set computation: Guess patterns in acquisition, Utrecht University, 1999, Interface strategies, MIT Press, 2006), and to the computation of implicatures involved in datte sentences. (iv) Children are unable to compute implicatures based on context-specific pragmatic scales derived from datte sentences, when a single underinformative statement is given. This partly contradicts previous findings on SI based on contextdependentpragmatic scales (Papafragou and Tantalou, Language Acquisition 12: 7182, 2004).

The results indicate that children's insensitivity to the pragmatic infelicity of datte sentences stems from the processing load induced by building and maintaining alternative representations, as reported for SI computation.

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.