Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

Memory for generic and quantified sentences in Spanish-speaking children and adults

  • SUSAN A. GELMAN (a1), INGRID SÁNCHEZ TAPIA (a2) and SARAH-JANE LESLIE (a3)

Abstract

Generic language ( Owls eat at night) expresses knowledge about categories and may represent a cognitively default mode of generalization. English-speaking children and adults more accurately recall generic than quantified sentences ( All owls eat at night) and tend to recall quantified sentences as generic. However, generics in English are shorter than quantified sentences, and may be better recalled for this reason. The present study provided a new test of the issue in Spanish, where generics are expressed with an additional linguistic element not found in certain quantified sentences ( Los búhos comen de noche ‘Owls eat at night’ [generic] vs. Muchos búhos comen de noche ‘Many owls eat at night’ [quantified]). Both preschoolers and adults recalled generics more accurately than quantified sentences, and quantified sentences were more often recalled as generic than the reverse. These findings provide strong additional evidence for generics as a cognitive default, in an understudied cultural context.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Susan A. Gelman, Department of Psychology, 530 Church St., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor MI 48109-1043. e-mail: gelman@umich.edu

References

Hide All
Brandone, A. C. & Gelman, S. A. (2013). Generic language use reveals domain differences in young children's expectations about animal and artifact categories. Cognitive Development 28, 6375.
Carlson, G. M. & Pelletier, F. J. (eds) (1995). The generic book. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Chierchia, G. (1998). Reference to kinds across languages. Natural Language Semantics 6, 339405.
Cimpian, A. (2013). Generic statements, causal attributions, and children's naive theories. In Banaji, M. R. & Gelman, S. A. (eds), Navigating the social world: what infants, children, and other species can teach us, 269–74. New York: Oxford University Press.
Cimpian, A. & Erickson, L. C. (2012). Remembering kinds: new evidence that categories are privileged in children's thinking. Cognitive Psychology 64, 161–85.
Cimpian, A., Gelman, S. A. & Brandone, A. C. (2010). Theory-based considerations influence the interpretation of generic sentences. Language and Cognitive Processes 25, 261–76.
Csibra, G. & Gergely, G. (2009). Natural pedagogy. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 13, 148153.
Gelman, S. A. (2003). The essential child: origins of essentialism in everyday thought. New York: Oxford University Press.
Gelman, S. A. (2010). Generics as a window onto young children's concepts. In Pelletier, F. J. (Ed.), Kinds, things, and stuff: the cognitive side of generics and mass terms (New Directions in Cognitive Science 12). New York: Oxford University Press.
Gelman, S. A. & Brandone, A. C. (2010). Fast-mapping placeholders: using words to talk about kinds. Language Learning and Development 6, 223240.
Gelman, S. A., Goetz, P. J., Sarnecka, B. S. & Flukes, J. (2008). Generic language in parent–child conversations. Language Learning and Development 4, 131.
Gelman, S. A., Ware, E. A. & Kleinberg, F. (2010). Effects of generic language on category content and structure. Cognitive Psychology 61, 273301.
Gelman, S. A., Ware, E. A., Manczak, E. M. & Graham, S. A. (2013). Children's sensitivity to the knowledge expressed in pedagogical and nonpedagogical contexts. Developmental Psychology 49, 491504.
Gülgöz, S. & Gelman, S. A. (2015). Children's recall of generic and specific labels regarding animals and people. Cognitive Development 33, 8498.
Henrich, J., Heine, S. J. & Norenzayan, A. (2010). The weirdest people in the world? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33, 6183.
Hollander, M. A., Gelman, S. A. & Raman, L. (2009). Generic language and judgements about category membership: Can generics highlight properties as central? Language and Cognitive Processes 24, 481505.
Hollander, M. A., Gelman, S. A. & Star, J. (2002). Children's interpretations of generic noun phrases. Developmental Psychology 38, 883–94.
Leslie, S. J. (2007). Generics and the structure of the mind. Philosophical Perspectives 21, 375403.
Leslie, S. J. (2008). Generics: cognition and acquisition. Philosophical Review 117, 147.
Leslie, S. J. (2012). Generics. In Russell, G. & Fara, D. G. (eds), The Routledge companion to philosophy of language, 355–67. New York: Routledge.
Leslie, S. & Gelman, S. A. (2012). Quantified statements are recalled as generics: evidence from preschool children and adults. Cognitive Psychology 64, 186214.
Leslie, S. J., Khemlani, S. & Glucksberg, S. (2011). Do all ducks lay eggs? The generic overgeneralization effect. Journal of Memory and Language 65, 1531.
Mannheim, B., Gelman, S. A., Escalante, C., Huayhua, M. & Puma, R. (2011). A developmental analysis of generic nouns in Southern Peruvian Quechua. Language Learning and Development 7, 123.
Meyer, M., Gelman, S. A. & Stilwell, S. M. (2011). Generics are a cognitive default: evidence from sentence processing. In Carlson, L., Hoelscher, C. & Shipley, T. F. (eds), Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 913–8. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
Pérez-Leroux, A. T., Munn, A., Schmitt, C. & DeIrish, M. (2004). Learning definite determiners: genericity and definiteness in English and Spanish. Proceedings supplement to the 28th Boston University Conference on Language Development. Online: <http://www.bu.edu/bucld/proceedings/supplement/vol28/>.
Prasada, S. & Dillingham, E. M. (2006). Principled and statistical connections in common sense conception. Cognition 99, 73112.
Rogoff, B., González, C. P., Quiacaín, C. C. & Quiacaín, J. C. (2011). Developing destinies: a Mayan midwife and town. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Sutherland, S. L., Cimpian, A., Leslie, S. J. & Gelman, S. A. (in press). Memory errors reveal a bias to spontaneously generalize to categories. Cognitive Science.
Tardif, T., Gelman, S. A., Fu, X. & Zhu, L. (2012). Acquisition of generic noun phrases in Chinese: learning about lions without an ‘-s’. Journal of Child Language 30, 132.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Child Language
  • ISSN: 0305-0009
  • EISSN: 1469-7602
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-child-language
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed