Context and the Scalar Implicatures of Indefinites in Child Spanish

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In this chapter we review current work on the semantics-pragmatics interface in the adult language and present a description, from earlier work, of the distinct distribution and properties of two Spanish indefinite determiners: <i>unos</i> and <i>algunos</i>. We evaluate the degree to which current theories are able to accommodate these properties and then present the results of two experiments measuring monolingual child Spanish-speakers&#8217; interpretations of them. The experiments show that children are adult-like in their ability to generate implicatures with <i>algunos</i> and cancel them in downward entailing contexts and that they are also aware that there is no implicature generated by <i>unos</i>, despite the similarity of the set interpretations associated with it and those associated with <i>algunos</i>. These findings demonstrate that children are able to surmount considerable learnability obstacles and that, at the age of 5, they have as much access to the logical interpretations of existential quantifiers as they do to their pragmatically-enriched, &#8220;some, but not all&#8221; interpretation.


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