Scalar implicature in Chitonga-speaking children

Jodi Reich, Kelly Nedwick, Teodora Niculae-Caxi, Yang Liu, Elena L. Grigorenko


Research on the acquisition of scalar implicature (SI) has provided evidence that young children interpret SI differently from adults. However, results have varied, and there is now mounting evidence that around six years of age, children are able to derive the pragmatic inferences associated with SI (Foppolo, Guasti, and Chierchia, 2012). Variability in results across studies could be due to factors such as data collection methods and language-specific differences. In order to add to the growing body of literature in a meaningful way, this research investigated the interpretation of sentences that include SI by Chitonga-speaking children (7-15 years old) in rural Southern Province, Zambia, who were notably beyond the key age of six. The results of this study provide valuable insight into the interpretation of SI in a Bantu language and suggest that the acquisition of pragmatic felicity with words on a scale follows the order of acquisition identified in previous research, but may emerge at a later age in this linguistic context.


scalar implicature; pragmatics; acquisition; Bantu; Chitonga

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Copyright (c) 2017 Jodi Reich, Kelly Nedwick, Teodora Niculae-Caxi, Yang Liu, Elena L. Grigorenko

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