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Scope and the structure of bare nominals: evidence from child language

Ana T Pérez-Leroux
  • University of Toronto.
/ Thomas Roeper
  • University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
  • :
Published Online: 2008-02-20 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling.37.5.927


The special semantic characteristics of bare nominals (nonspecificity and lack of scopal interactions) are best explained in terms of an approach that views these not as full DPs, but as minimal nominal projections containing an internal pro argument. The evidence from child language suggests that such aspects of the interpretation of bare nominals are readily accessible in children's grammar. Thirty-six English-speaking children participated in a controlled comprehension study comparing their interpretation of sentences with quantifiers involving both the bare noun construction and full DPs. Children seemed to readily understand the interpretive differences between the two structures, suggesting that the presence or absence of a determiner is a sufficient trigger for the acquisition of such construction.

*Correspondence address: A. T. Pérez-Leroux, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Toronto, Victoria College, 73 Queen's Park Crescent, Toronto ON M5S 1K7, Canada.

Received: 1998-04-15

Revised: 1999-05-04

Published Online: 2008-02-20

Published in Print: 1999-09-01

Citation Information: Linguistics. Volume 37, Issue 5, Pages 927–960, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling.37.5.927, February 2008

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