Acquisition of scalar implicatures
Evidence from adult Japanese L2 learners of English
Our study investigates the second language (L2) acquisition of scalar implicatures some and all. We set out to answer two research questions based on three theoretical accounts, the lexical, pragmatic and syntactic accounts. In an experiment we include English and Japanese native speakers, and intermediate and advanced Japanese L2 learners of English. We used quantifiers some and all in ‘Yes/No’ questions in a context with sets of toy fruits, where pragmatic answers are expected, e.g., a ‘No’ response to the question ‘Are some of the strawberries in the red circle?’ (when a set of 14/14 strawberries are placed inside a red circle). Our individual results indicate that L2 learners are generally more pragmatic in their responses than native English speakers. But, there are neither significant differences between groups nor significant differences between L2 proficiency levels. We consider the implications of our findings for the acquisition of L2 semantics and pragmatics.
Keywords: second language acquisition, scalar implicatures, conversational implicature, lexical account, pragmatic account, syntactic account
Published online: 26 February 2018
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