Acquiring VP-ellipsis in Brazilian Portuguese

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Do children recognize VP-ellipsis and know its identification restrictions when allowed the necessary conditions to offer a non-adult interpretation? We have applied a Truth Value Judgement Task (TVJT) consisting of three characters sentences: A who did something to B and C who also did something to B. Our null hypothesis sustains that the elided VP is not restricted by its antecedent. If that is true, we expect children’s grammar acquiring VP-ellipsis languages to be broader than the target. Thirty 4- to 6-year-old children were tested with one matching condition (the adult-like interpretation) and five mismatch ones, all false under the adult interpretation. Our results show that children perform at ceiling in the matching condition, but display an average of 26% of non-adult responses in the mismatching conditions. Our results also show that there is an age effect. The 4-year-olds accept 42% of the non-adult interpretations while this figure drops to 20.5% for the 5-year-olds and to 8% for the 6-year-olds.


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