Bootstrapping attitudes

Valentine Hacquard

Abstract


This paper explores two classic problems at the semantics-pragmatics interface from a learner’s perspective. First, the meaning that speakers convey often goes beyond the literal meaning of the sentences they utter. Second, not all content encoded in utterances has equal standing: some is foregrounded, some backgrounded. Yet a sentence does not formally distinguish what a speaker asserts from what she presupposes or merely implicates. For this reason, the child acquiring a language has a daunting task. She must both extract the literal meaning from the overall message, and separate the background assumptions that are linguistically required from those that are incidental. This paper discusses the ways in which the syntax might guide the child with this daunting task, through a few case studies on children’s acquisition of attitude verbs.

Full Text:

PDF

References


Abbeduto, Leonard and Sheldon Rosenberg. 1985. Children’s knowledge of the presuppositions of know and other cognitive verbs. Journal of Child Language 12(3), 621-641.

Abrusán, Márta. 2011. Predicting the presuppositions of soft triggers. Linguistics and Philosophy 34, 491-535.

Anand, Pranav and Valentine Hacquard. 2013. Epistemics and attitudes. Semantics and Pragmatics 6(8), 1-59.

Anand, Pranav and Valentine Hacquard. To appear. Factivity, belief and discourse. In L. Cnirc & U. Sauerland (ed.) MITWPL.

Baron Cohen, Simon, Alan Leslie, and Uta Frith. 1985. Does the autistic child have a “theory of mind”? Cognition 21, 37-46.

Bolinger, Dwight. 1968. Aspects of language. New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World.

Dayal, Veneeta and Jane Grimshaw. 2009. Subordination at the interface: A quasi-subordination hypothesis. Ms., Rutgers.

De Villiers, Jill. 2005. Can language acquisition give children a point of view? In J. W. Astington, & J. A. Baird (Eds.), Why language matters for theory of mind. New York: Oxford University Press, 186-219.

Diessel, Holger and Michael Tomasello. 2001. The acquisition of finite complement clauses in English: A corpus-based analysis. Cognitive Linguistics 12(2), 97-142.

Dudley, Rachel, Naho Orita, Valentine Hacquard, and Jeffrey Lidz. To appear. In F. Schwarz (ed.) Experimental perspective on presuppositions. Studies in Theoretical Psycholinguistics Series. Springer.

Dudley, Rachel, Meredith Rowe, Valentine Hacquard, and Jeffrey Lidz. In progress. SES differences in parental input on mental states verbs. UMD.

Egré, Paul. 2008. Question-embedding and factivity. Grazer Philosophische Studien 77(1), 85-125.

Farkas, Donka. 1985. Intensional descriptions and the Romance subjunctive mood. New York: Garland.

Fischer, Cynthia, Henry Gleitman, and Leila Gleitman. 1991. On the semantic content of subcategorization frames. Cognitive Psychology 23(3), 331-392.

Giannakidou, Anastasia. 1997. The landscape of polarity items. PhD. Thesis, University of Groeningen, The Netherlands.

Ginzburg, Jonathan. 1995. Resolving questions, I. Linguistics and Philosophy 18:5, 459-527.

Gleitman, Leila. 1990. The structural sources of verb meanings. Language acquisition 1(1), 3-55.

Gleitman, Leila, Kimberly Cassidy, Rebecca Nappa, Anna Papafragou, and John Trueswell. 2005. Hard words. Language Learning and Development 1(1), 23-64.

Harrigan, Kaitlyn, Valentine Hacquard, and Jeffrey Lidz. 2014. Do conflicting desires make interpreting want harder? Ms., UMD.

Harrigan, Kaitlyn, Valentine Hacquard, and Jeffrey Lidz, in progress. Children’s knowledge of the verb hope. UMD.

Harris, Richard J. 1975. Children’s comprehension of complex sentences. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 19, 420-423.

Hintikka, Jakko. 1975. Different constructions in terms of the basic epistemological verbs. In The Intentions of Intensionality, 1-25. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

Heim, Irene. 1992. Presupposition projection and the semantics of attitude verbs. Journal of Semantics 9, 183-221.

Hooper, Joan. B. 1975. On assertive predicates. In J. Kimball (ed.) Syntax and Semantics 4, 91-124.

Johnson, Carl N. and Michael P. Maratsos. 1977. Early comprehension of mental verbs: think and know. Child Development, 1743-1747.

Karttunen, Lauri. 1977. Syntax and semantics of questions. Linguistics and philosophy 1(1), 3-44.

Landau, Barbara and Leila Gleitman. 1985. Language and Experience. Evidence from the blind child. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Lewis, Shevaun. 2013. Pragmatic enrichment in language processing and development. PhD. Thesis, University of Maryland, College Park.

Lewis, Shevaun, Valentine Hacquard, and Jeffrey Lidz. 2013. The semantics and pragmatics of belief reports in preschoolers. In Proceedings of SALT 22, 247-267. Ithaca, NY: CLC.

Lewis, Shevaun, Valentine Hacquard, and Jeffrey Lidz. In progress. Children’s interpretations of belief reports, JHU and UMD.

Moore, Chris, Dana Bryant, and David Furrow. 1989. Mental terms and the development of certainty. Child Development, 167-171.

Noveck, Ira. 2001. When children are more logical than adults: experimental investigations of scalar implicatures. Cognition 78, 165-188.

Onishi, Kristin H., and Renee Baillargeon. 2005. Do 15-month-old infants understand false belief? Science 308, 255-258.

Papafragou, Anna, Kimberly Cassidy, and Leila Gleitman. 2007. When we think about thinking: The acquisition of belief verbs. Cognition 105, 125-165.

Perner, Josef, Manuel Sprung, Petra Zauner, and Hubert Haider. 2003. ‘Want that’ is understood well before ‘say that’, ‘think that’, and false belief: a test of de Villiers’s linguistic determinism on German-speaking children. Child Development 74, 179-188.

Pesetsky, David. 1992. Zero syntax II: An essay on infinitives. Ms., MIT.

Pinker, Steven. 1994. How could a child use verb syntax to learn verb semantics? Lingua 92, 377- 410.

Portner, Paul 1992. Situation theory and the semantics of proposistional expressions. PhD. Thesis. UMass Amherst.

Pouscoulous, Nausicaa. 2012. Early pragmatics with words. In F. Liedtke & C. Schulze (eds.) Beyond the Words. Content, context, and inference, 149-172. Mouton Series in Pragmatics (MSP). De Gruyter Mouton.

Rakoczy, Hannes, Felix Warneken, and Michael Tomasello. 2007. ‘This way!’, ‘No! That way!’—3 year olds know that two people can have mutually incompatible desires. Cognitive Development 22, 47-68.

Scheffler, Tatjana. 2008. Semantic Operators in Different Dimensions. PhD. Thesis, UPenn.

Simons, Mandy. 2007. Observations on embedding verbs, evidentiality, and presupposition. Lingua 117(6), 1034-1056.

Southgate, Victoria, Atsushi Senju, and Gergely Csibra. 2007. Action anticipation through attribution of false belief by 2-year-olds. Psychological Science 18(7), 587-592.

Spector, Benjamin and Paul Egré. 2013. A uniform semantics for embedded interrogatives: An answer, not necessarily the answer. Accepted for publication with major revisions in Synthese.

Stalnaker, Robert. 1984. Inquiry, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Tardif, Twila and Henry Wellman. 2000. Acquisition of mental state language in Mandarin and Cantonese-speaking children. Developmental Psychology 36(1).

Truckenbrodt, Hubert. On the semantic motivation of syntactic verb movement to C in German. Theoretical Linguistics 32, 257-306.

Urmson, J.O. 1952. Parenthetical Verbs. Mind, New Series 61(244), 480-496.

Villalta, Elizabeth. 2008. Mood and gradability: an investigation of the subjunctive mood in Spanish. Linguistics and Philosophy 31, 467-522.

Wellman, Henry, David Cross, and Julanne Watson. 2001. Meta-analysis of theory-of-mind development: the truth about false belief. Child Development 72, 655-684.

White, Aaron, Rachel Dudley, Valentine Hacquard, and Jeffrey Lidz. 2014. Discovering classes of attitude verbs using subcategorization frame distributions. In Proceedings of NELS 43.

White, Aaron, Valentine Hacquard, and Jeffrey Lidz. In progress. Main clause syntax and the belief-desire distinction. UMD.

Wimmer, Heinz and Josef Perner. 1983. Beliefs about beliefs: Representation and constraining function of wrong beliefs in young children's understanding of deception. Cognition 13, 103-128.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3765/salt.v24i0.2434