Presuppositions Are Challenging Not Only for Pre-Schoolers, but Also for School-Aged Children

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Pragmatics, Language and Cognition book series (PSPLC)


In this chapter the authors present an experimental study conducted with Italian children from Grade 1 to Grade 5 of elementary school (age 6–10) in which they assess children’s performance with sentences containing the focus operators also and only. Beyond the rich acquisition literature on presupposition, the authors aimed at contributing by taking into account children’s performance in the two layers of meaning associated with these focus operators, that is, the prejacent and the alternatives evoked. Also, they aimed at testing the interaction of these operators with negation, in order to evaluate children’s performance with respect to the operations required on the alternatives, that is, from contrasting cases of exclusion in which the alternatives are negated, to cases of addition in which the alternatives are identified as lively options. The authors found a clear developmental trend in children’s performance and also interesting differences between the aspects involved in the computation of presupposed meaning, such as the status of the prejacent (which is claimed to differ in the two particles tested) and the processing of the alternatives evoked (which might be more costly in the case of addition than exclusion).


Presuppositions Focus particles Only Also Language acquisition Italian 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Francesca Panzeri and Francesca FoppoloUniversità degli Studi di Milano-BicoccaMilanoItaly

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