Do children interpret "or" conjunctively?

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Description: Preschoolers often struggle to compute scalar implicatures (SI) involving quantifiers (some, all), and disjunction (or), in which they are required to strengthen an utterance by negating stronger alternatives. Recent reports find that a substantial subset of children interpret disjunction as conjunction, e.g., concluding from “The girl has an apple or an orange” that the girl must have both fruits. According to these studies, children arrive at conjunctive readings not because they have non-adult-like semantics, but because they lack access to the stronger scalar alternative and, and employ doubly exhaustified disjuncts when computing implicatures. Using stimuli modeled from previous studies, we test English-speaking preschoolers and replicate the finding that many children interpret or conjunctively. However, we speculate that conditions that replicate this finding violate what Crain et al. (1996) describe as “plausible dissent”, wherein the context fails to provide conditions under which utterances might be deemed

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International

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