Chapter published in:Studies in Chinese and Japanese Language Acquisition: In honor of Stephen Crain
Edited by Mineharu Nakayama, Yi-ching Su and Aijun Huang
[Language Acquisition and Language Disorders 60] 2017
► pp. 165–196
On scope interaction between subject QPs and negation in child grammar
In adult grammar, languages such as English exhibit scope flexibility between the universal quantifier in the subject position and negation (Horn 1989; Jackendoff 1972), whereas languages such as Japanese and German do not (Lechner 1996; Miyagawa 2010, among others). This paper elucidates children’s ability to detect scope ambiguity between universal and existential quantifiers in subject position and negation in Japanese and German. Importantly, these two languages seem to share a property regarding the surface position of subjects in adult grammar: Ueda (2002), Saito (2011), among others argue that a subject is located in the CP domain in Japanese, and a preverbal subject in German is also widely assumed to be located in the CP domain, due to its V2 nature (den Besten 1983; Schwartz & Vikner 1996, among others). However, a detailed examination of the properties of subjects in these two languages reveals that their wide scope interpretation may be due to different mechanisms. It will be shown that although different restrictions are posed on Japanese and German reconstruction in adult grammar, these restrictions may be lifted in child grammar, which enables us to compare reconstruction effects that we may observe in Japanese and German child grammar. We conduct experiments, adopting the truth value judgment task (Crain & McKee 1985), in order to examine how Japanese and German children interpret sentences with a subject universal or existential quantifier and negation. We anticipate that Japanese and German children both allow scope ambiguity between universal and existential quantifiers in subject position and negation. The present study leads us to identify the position of the subject in Japanese child grammar.
Published online: 24 August 2017
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