Acquisition of Scalar Implicatures
Many studies have shown that young children do not derive scalar implicatures at an adult-like level, and children’s difficulties with scalar implicatures have been attributed to immature pragmatic capacities, the lack of lexical scales, or their limited processing capacities (e.g., Barner et al. 2011; Chierchia et al. 2001; Foppolo et al. 2020; Gotzner et al. 2020; Pouscoulous et al. 2007; Skordos & Papafargou 2016; Tieu et al. 2016). Yet, few studies have directly measured the role of processing limits, or comprehensively explored the predictions of processing-based accounts. This project aims to fill this gap by investigating processing accounts from several perspectives.
Acquisition of Adjectival Resultatives
Two different types of ‘complex predicate’ found in English are adjectival resultatives and verb-particle combinations. Snyder (1995, et seq.) ties both to the positive setting of the Compounding Parameter (TCP). Hence, a language permitting these structures should also permit highly productive root compounding; and when a child acquires a ‘[+TCP]’ language like English, resultatives, particles, and N-N compounding should become grammatically possible for the child at the same point in time. Longitudinal studies of English-speaking children’s spontaneous speech strongly support the link between particles and N-N compounding (both acquired by age three), but have set aside resultatives, due to their low frequency. Our work aims to fill this gap and test the predictions of TCP.
The acquisition of passives
It has been observed that children are generally delayed in their understanding of passive sentences. This project investigates why this is and whether experimental and/or syntactic manipulations would reveal deeper insights into children’s understanding of these types of sentences.
The semantics and acquisition of ‘again’
The adverb ‘again’ is ambiguous between a repetitive and restitutive reading in many languages. This project investigates how the ambiguity of ‘again’ is derived and how children acquire the ambiguity from a cross-linguistic perspective.