Children’s comprehension of plural predicate conjunction

Jacopo Romoli

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Previous developmental studies of conjunction have focused on the syntax of phrasal and sentential coordination (Lust 1977; de Villiers, Tager-Flusberg, & Hakuta 1977; Bloom, Lahey, Hood, Lifter, & Fiess 1980, among others). The present study exam- ined the flexibility of children’s interpretation of conjunction. Specifically, when two predicates that can apply simultaneously to a single individual are conjoined in the scope of a plural definite (The bears are big and white), conjunction receives a boolean, intersective interpretation. However, when the conjoined predicates cannot apply si- multaneously to an individual (The bears are big and small), conjunction receives a weaker ‘split’ interpretation (Krifka 1990; Lasersohn 1995; Winter 1996). Our exper- iments reveal that preschool-aged children are sensitive to both intersective and split interpretations, and can use their lexical and world knowledge of the relevant predicates in order to select an appropriate reading.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
JournalJournal of Child Language
Early online date8 May 2017
Publication statusPublished online - 8 May 2017


  • semantics
  • pragmatics
  • acquisition
  • conjunctions


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