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Evolutionary Syntax

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Academic Paper

Title: Scope Assignment in Chinese: Why children and adults differ
Author: Peng Zhou
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Institution: Macquarie University
Author: Stephen Crain
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Institution: Macquarie University
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition
Subject Language: Chinese, Mandarin
Abstract: In this study, we investigated how Mandarin-speaking children and adults understand the scope relation between the universal quantifier and negation in sentences like Mei-pi ma dou meiyou tiaoguo liba 'Every horse didn't jump over the house' and Bushi mei-pi ma dou tiaoguo-le liba 'Not every horse jumped over fence'. We found that Mandarin-speaking children accepted these two types of sentences in both the surface scope and the inverse scope scenarios, whereas Mandarin-speaking adults only permitted them in the surface scope scenarios. Based on the data, we suggested that Mandarin-speaking children start off with a flexible scope interpretation, which we attributed to their insensitivity to the focus properties of DOU 'all' and SHI 'be' in the relevant sentences.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Publication Info: Proceedings of the Ninth Tokyo Conference on Psycholinguistics. pp. 341-366.

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