Volume 34, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0929-7332
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9919


Children acquire the meaning of ‘also’ in Dutch relatively late ( Bergsma 2006 ), although this focus particle is highly frequent. We argue that this late acquisition is caused by a pragmatic rule: contrastive implicature. We follow Sæbø (2004) , who argues that additives are used because without them, the sentences they appear in would be interpreted as contrastive in relation to the context. Data from a sentence completion task administered to Dutch L1 learners ( = 62, ages 4;0–5;11) show that, on average, four-year-olds do not distinguish sentences with from sentences without . Five-year-olds do better on sentences with but worse on sentences without it. We argue that they have generally acquired contrastive implicature: they apply the correct contrastive interpretation to sentences without , but overgeneralize this implicature to sentences with , before completely acquiring the meaning of


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): also; contrastive implicature; L1 acquisition; ook; pragmatics
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