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Conservativity and Quantification. Do Dutch children obey Conservativity in a picture-verification task?

Koster, A.M.B. de (2013) Conservativity and Quantification. Do Dutch children obey Conservativity in a picture-verification task? Bachelor's Thesis, Artificial Intelligence.

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Conservativity is a universal property of natural language determiners. Because of this universality it is possible that young children can apply it to quantifier interpretations. But do we have to learn conservativity or is it part of the innate structure of language? Using a picture verification task with sentences using the conservative determiner al (all) and the non-conservative quantificational adverb alleen (only), we tested 16 children between the ages of 4-6. Previous research has shown that al is more difficult for children in contrary to alleen with example sentences like ‘Al de konijnen dansen’ and ‘Alleen de konijnen dansen’. However, in this previous experiment we found some peculiarities with the determiner alleen. To examine these peculiarities we did a variation on the previous experiment. As a novel element, rather than using existing animals we used non-existing monsters for the pictures, to rule out the relation with the real world. We also left out the determiner in the target-sentences, for example: ‘Alleen de konijnen dansen’ became ‘Alleen konijnen dansen’. We found in this follow-up experiment that sentences with alle (all) are difficult for children to verify, but sentences with alleen (only) also are difficult. The removal of the definite article didn’t influence the results, and children instead seem to be fairly consistent. The results neither show that children follow conservativity, nor that they do not follow conservativity and demand a more complex explanation.

Item Type: Thesis (Bachelor's Thesis)
Degree programme: Artificial Intelligence
Thesis type: Bachelor's Thesis
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 07:54
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 07:54

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