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The Acquisition of Distributivity and its relationship with the Adjective of Comparison 'Different'

Koster, A.M.B. de (2015) The Acquisition of Distributivity and its relationship with the Adjective of Comparison 'Different'. Master's Thesis / Essay, Human-Machine Communication.

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Abstract

How children learn to correctly interpret distributive sentences is not well understood. Consider the following sentence: (Ex.) The boys are pushing a car. This sentence can be interpreted as if the boys are pushing one car together (the collective interpretation), or as if they are pushing their own cars separately (the distributive interpretation). Generally adults prefer the collective interpretation and children prefer the distributive interpretation. We did two studies. Study 1 focuses on the interpretation of definite plural noun phrases. We used a truth-value judgment task (TVJT) to study whether children's accurate interpretation of 'each' relates to their interpretation of definite plurals and found a correlation between correctly rejecting collective readings with 'each' and correctly rejecting distributive readings with definite plurals. Study 2 concerns the adjective of comparison (AOC) 'different'. AOC's are used two compare two elements: the current sentence and a sentence-external element. However, AOC's can also compare sentences internally, without referring to any previously introduced element, which is called the sentence-internal reading. There is a long tradition of connecting the sentence-internal reading of AOCs with distributivity. We investigated whether the acquisition of the sentence-internal reading of 'different' is dependent on the development and acquisition of distributivity with a TVJT, again using definite plurals and the quantifier 'each'. Contrary to our expectations we did not find a correlation between children who rejected the distributive interpretation with the definite plural 'de' in Study 1 and understood the sentence-internal reading of the AOC 'different' in Study 2. Further research is necessary to examine this relationship.

Item Type: Thesis (Master's Thesis / Essay)
Degree programme: Human-Machine Communication
Thesis type: Master's Thesis / Essay
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 08:09
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 08:09
URI: http://fse.studenttheses.ub.rug.nl/id/eprint/13479

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