Linguistic and non-linguistic cues to acquiring the strong distributivity of each
Keywords:language acquisition, corpus investigation, quantification, psychosemantics, distributivity, universal quantifiers
The universal quantifier each is more strongly distributive than its counterparts every and all. It forces predicates to apply to individuals, it more often supports pair-list readings, it’s unfriendly to genericity, and, in psycholinguistic tasks, it encourages encoding and remembering individual properties. But what information leads learners to acquire this aspect of em>each’s meaning? We explore the hypothesis that, because of its meaning, parents are more likely to use each in situations that independently promote representing the domain of quantification as a series of individuals (as opposed to a group). In line with this, we find that in child-directed speech, parents often use each to quantify over small numbers of physically present things. The same cannot be said of every and all. Because such situations are independently known to trigger object-files – the mind’s system for representing individuals – we argue that these cases are ideal for acquiring the individualistic aspect of each.
Published by the LSA with permission of the author(s) under a CC BY 4.0 license.