Differences between Spanish monolingual and Spanish-English bilingual children in their calculation of entailment-based scalar implicatures

Abstract

In this paper, we extend investigations of the possible effects of cross-linguistic influence at the pragmatics-syntax interface (Hulk & Müller 2000; Müller & Hulk 2001; Serratrice, Sorace & Paoli 2004), by presenting two experiments designed to probe how Spanish monolingual and Spanish-English bilingual preschool-age children approach the ‘some, but not all’ scalar implicature (SI) associated with algunos (‘some’). We compare algunos and unos (also a ‘some’ indefinite, but one that is not context-linked and does not induce an SI), and algunos and todos (the universal quantifier ‘every/all’). The performance of the children is compared to fluent adult Spanish heritage speakers. Experiment 1 is a variation of Noveck’s (2001) statement evaluation task, also replicated by Guasti et al. (2005). Experiment 2 is a forced-choice picture selection task. Results demonstrate that adults were the only group to consistently calculate the SI associated with algunos – a finding that was expected to some extent, given that our tasks were stripped of the contextual support that could benefit children’s pragmatic reasoning. While bilingual and monolingual children displayed comparable performance across tasks, bilinguals in Experiment 2 appeared to experience difficulty with judgments related to todos – a pattern we attribute (in light of independent findings) to the cognitive overload in the task, not the lexical entry of this quantifier. We conclude that young monolingual and bilingual children confront the same challenges when called upon to deploy pragmatic skills in a discourse context.

This article is part of the special collection: Acquisition of Quantification

Keywords

quantification, quantifiers, bilinguals, language acquisition

How to Cite

Syrett, K. & Lingwall, A. & Perez-Cortes, S. & Austin, J. & Sánchez, L. & Baker, H. & Germak, C. & Arias-Amaya, A., (2017) “Differences between Spanish monolingual and Spanish-English bilingual children in their calculation of entailment-based scalar implicatures”, Glossa: a journal of general linguistics 2(1): 31. doi: https://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.76

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Authors

Kristen Syrett (Department of Linguistics, Rutgers University, New Brunswick)
Anne Lingwall (Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ)
Silvia Perez-Cortes (Department of World Languages and Cultures, Rutgers University, Camden, NJ)
Jennifer Austin (Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ)
Liliana Sánchez (Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ)
Hannah Baker (Rutgers University)
Christina Germak (Rutgers University)
Anthony Arias-Amaya (Rutgers University)

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