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Part of the book series: Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory ((SNLT,volume 91))

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This paper reports adult and child knowledge of the generalized scalar implicature (GCI) of disjunction, the non-scalar ‘Allover’ GCI and the particularized no-contrast implicature. The contributions of scales, generalization, and relational complexity to the developmental difficulty of phenomena at the semantic–pragmatic interface are discussed. Results show that children as old as 9 years do not demonstrate adultlike knowledge of the scalar GCI of disjunction or the no-contrast PCI, while the ‘Allover’ GCI is demonstrated at 5 years. We conclude that the quaternary level relational complexity of the later developing implicature and the ternary level complexity of the earlier developing implicature, as analyzed by Halford et al. (1998) Relational Complexity Metric, can account for this developmental pattern, and not scales or generality.

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  1. 1.

    Coordinated sentences are given a lower complexity in Halford et al. (1998) own analysis; however, we see the current analysis as more accurate and supported by behavioral results. Ternary level complexity is predicted to be acquired by 5 years, and this is the age at which children have been shown to demonstrate knowledge of the truth conditions of the coordinators (Paltiel-Gedalyovich 2003).

  2. 2.

    It has been suggested to us anonymously that the negation of the remaining colors has a greater ternary complexity. An alternative analysis would be that there is a double negation, not blue resulting in a binary relation having scope over a binary relation which yields a quaternary level relation. We would, however, argue that the first analysis is more accurate, but that the multiple negations are chunked, thus reducing their combined complexity.

  3. 3.

    This was part of a larger experiment into semantic and pragmatic knowledge of coordinators. Only the relevant conditions are reported here.


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This work is partially based on Leah’s doctoral thesis (2003) completed under the supervision of Dr. Jeannette Schaeffer and Prof. Nomi Shir. This work was partially supported by grant no. 4-2004 from the National Institute for Psychobiology in Israel to Dr. Jeannette Schaeffer, and by a 2007 Summer Excellency Fellowship to Dr. Leah Paltiel-Gedalyovich from the Zlotowski Center for Neurosciences. Thanks to Professor Yishai Tobin who kindly presented an earlier version of this paper at CIL18 in Seoul.

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Correspondence to Leah R. Paltiel-Gedalyovich .

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Paltiel-Gedalyovich, L.R., Schaeffer, J. (2017). Scales and Non-scales in (Hebrew) Child Language. In: Lee, C., Kiefer, F., Krifka, M. (eds) Contrastiveness in Information Structure, Alternatives and Scalar Implicatures. Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, vol 91. Springer, Cham.

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  • Print ISBN: 978-3-319-10105-7

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