Attitude verbs (like think and believe) have been at the center of the linguistic and philosophical study of opaque complements and the fact that children exhibit difficulty in False Belief tasks. This work seeks to subdivide the ingredients that contribute to opacity and the difficulty of False Belief, by separating opacity from verbs and separating out reality from the evaluation of belief attributions. A PP like according to or to NP also allows adjunct opaque complements (according to Bill, it is raining). The authors' experiment shows that children between 3-5 years understand opaque adjuncts to PPs more easily than subcategorized complements to attitude verbs, and that children can attribute beliefs to others more easily when no reality is represented. It therefore suggests that the attribution of False Belief requires several substages where first belief is attributed and the assumption of truth for adjuncts is not required. Full subcategorization with belief predicates, allowing False Belief to be attributed despite a contrary reality, may await the acquisition of the recursive properties of subordination.
Proceedings of the 3rd Conference on Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition North America (GALANA 2008)
edited by Jean Crawford, Koichi Otaki, and Masahiko Takahashi
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