Tieu, Lyn, Romoli, Jacopo, Poortman, Eva, Winter, Yoad and Crain, Stephen
Journal of Child Language, 45(1), 242-259.
Publication year: 2017

Abstract

Previous developmental studies of conjunction have focused on the syntax of phrasal and sentential coordination (Lust 1977; de Villiers, Tager-Flusberg, & Hakuta 1977; Bloom, Lahey, Hood, Lifter, & Fiess 1980, among others). The present study exam- ined the flexibility of children’s interpretation of conjunction. Specifically, when two predicates that can apply simultaneously to a single individual are conjoined in the scope of a plural definite (The bears are big and white), conjunction receives a boolean, intersective interpretation. However, when the conjoined predicates cannot apply si- multaneously to an individual (The bears are big and small), conjunction receives a weaker ‘split’ interpretation (Krifka 1990; Lasersohn 1995; Winter 1996). Our exper- iments reveal that preschool-aged children are sensitive to both intersective and split interpretations, and can use their lexical and world knowledge of the relevant predicates in order to select an appropriate reading.