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Scope assignment in child language

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Abstract

This paper focuses on recent work on children&#8217;s interpretation of scopally ambiguous sentences. We review current literature on the topic and we discuss two theoretical notions, namely the notion of <i>surface scope</i> and the notion of <i>Question Under Discussion</i> (QUD). We argue that both notions are theoretically motivated but pertain to different domains. In particular, in agreement with current literature, we acknowledge that notions defined over the syntax-semantics mapping are psychologically real and play a role in determining the number of interpretations that are available for any given sentence (see Fox 2000). However, we propose that inverse scope and surface scope are equally available to the psychological parser. In particular, we argue that ambiguity resolution is guided by contextual congruence rather than by considerations about the syntaxsemantics mapping.

References

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