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Children's Interpretation of Disjunction in Questions in Japanese
Nobuaki Akagi, Takuya Goro, Rosalind Thornton, and Stephen Crain
1-11 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


The present study investigates children's understanding of a yes-no question (YNQ) with a disjunctive phrase (disjP). In English, a question like 'Did the pig eat a carrot or a pepper?' is ambiguous, with both a YNQ interpretation and an alternative question (AltQ) interpretation. The Japanese counterpart, however, can only be interpreted as a YNQ. The aim of this study was to see whether Japanese-speaking children comply with this restriction on the interpretation of 'YNQ+disjP' questions, or tolerate an AltQ interpretation to such questions, as in English. Considering our findings, we conclude that an AltQ interpretation of 'YNQ+disjP' is available to Japanese-speaking children, despite the absence of evidence for this analysis in the primary linguistic data. The findings are interpreted as evidence supporting the continuity hypothesis (Crain and Pietroski 2002).

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 4th Conference on Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition North America (GALANA 2010)
edited by Mihaela Pirvulescu, María Cristina Cuervo, Ana T. Pérez-Leroux, Jeffrey Steele, and Nelleke Strik
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Printed edition: $320.00