Testing the QUD approach: Children's comprehension of scopally ambiguous questions

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Children and adults have been reported to differ in their interpretation of scopally ambiguous sen- tences such as Every horse didn’t jump over the fence (Musolino 1998; Gualmini 2004; Gualmini et al. 2008; Musolino & Lidz 2006; see also Lidz & Musolino 2002; Musolino et al. 2000; Musolino & Lidz 2006; Kra ̈mer 2000; Moscati & Crain 2014; Moscati et al. 2016, among many others). A recent approach in the literature treats this difference as fully pragmatic in nature. In particular, Gualmini et al. (2008) have proposed an explanation based on what they call the Question-Answer Requirement (QAR), which locates the source of the difference in the understood Question Under Discussion (QUD) in the context. The main idea behind the QAR is that any sentence is to be understood as an answer to a QUD. As a consequence, in the case of scopally ambiguous sentences, a given reading of the sentence is accessible (to adults and children) only if it constitutes a possible answer to the contextual QUD. Children and adults are then claimed to differ only in how they handle and accommodate QUDs. In particular, if the reading that would answer the salient QUD is false in the context, adults, but not children, are able to accommodate a new QUD in order to access the true interpretation of the ambiguous sentence.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
PublisherUniversity of Utah
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2016
EventWest Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics - University of Utah
Duration: 1 Jan 2016 → …


ConferenceWest Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
Period1/01/16 → …


  • semantics
  • pragmatics
  • language acquisition


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