Comprehension and Production of Grammatical Aspect in Child Spanish: Semantics vs. Pragmatics
Isabel García del Real, Angeliek van Hout, and Maria José Ezeizabarrena
99-110 (complete paper
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Perfective (PF) telic predicates entail completion in contrast to imperfective (IPF) telic predicates, which can describe both complete and incomplete events; this is the essence of the Imperfective Paradox. When IPF is used to provide foreground information, it can generate the scalar implicature that completion was not reached. This study tested the interpretation and production of PF and IPF morphemes by 21 Spanish 5-year-old children, to investigate to what extent the semantic and pragmatic use of grammatical aspect morphology has been acquired. Children performed adult-like in the comprehension task, accepting IPF as a proper description of complete and incomplete events. On the elicitation task, adults used IPF exclusively to describe incomplete events, whereas children sometimes used IPF with complete events. The authors argue that the tasks involve different kinds of reasoning: the comprehension task induces logical reasoning, whereas the elicited production task requires additional pragmatic reasoning, since it involves the generation of the scalar implicature that links IPF to lack of completion. Although children have no problems with the logical meaning of IPF in the comprehension task, not all Spanish 5-year-olds have acquired the pragmatic use of the IPF yet, and thus their production is different from adults'.
Selected Proceedings of the 5th Conference on Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition North America (GALANA 2012)
edited by Chia-Ying Chu, Caitlin E. Coughlin, Beatriz Lopez Prego, Utako Minai, and Annie Tremblay
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