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Scalar and ad-hoc pragmatic inferences in children: guess which one is easier

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 June 2020

Francesca FOPPOLO*
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, University of Milan-Bicocca
Greta MAZZAGGIO
Affiliation:
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Trento
Francesca PANZERI
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, University of Milan-Bicocca
Luca SURIAN
Affiliation:
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Trento
*
Corresponding author: Francesca Foppolo, Department of Psychology, University of Milano-Bicocca, Ed. U6 Room 3136 3rd Floor, Piazza dell'Ateneo Nuovo, 1, 20126Milano, Italy; Email: francesca.foppolo@unimib.it;

Abstract

Several studies investigated preschoolers’ ability to compute scalar and ad-hoc implicatures, but only one compared children's performance with both kinds of implicature with the same task, a picture selection task. In Experiment 1 (N = 58, age: 4;2-6;0), we first show that the truth value judgment task, traditionally employed to investigate children's pragmatic ability, prompts a rate of pragmatic responses comparable to the picture selection task. In Experiment 2 (N = 141, age: 3;8-9;2) we used the picture selection task to compare scalar and ad-hoc implicatures and linked the ability to derive these implicatures to some cognitive and linguistic measures. We found that four- and five-year-olds children performed better on ad-hoc than on scalar implicatures. Furthermore, we found that morphosyntactic competence was associated with success in both kinds of implicatures, while performance on mental state reasoning was positively associated with success on scalar but not ad-hoc implicatures.

Type
Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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Footnotes

*

Francesca Foppolo and Greta Mazzaggio are joint first authors of this paper.

Authors’ contribution is as follows: Greta Mazzaggio conceived the experimental question, under the supervision of Luca Surian. Francesca Foppolo and Francesca Panzeri developed the tasks. Greta Mazzaggio recruited the children and supervised the testing. Francesca Foppolo performed the statistical analyses. Francesca Foppolo and Greta Mazzaggio drafted the manuscript which was critically revised by all authors.

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