- A cross-linguistic investigation of the acquisition of the pragmatics of indefinite and definite reference in two-year-olds
- Journal of Child Language
- Volume | Issue number
- 35 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication (ACLC)
The acquisition of reference involves both morphosyntax and
pragmatics. This study investigates whether Dutch, English and
French two- to three-year-old children differentiate in their use of
determiners between non-specific/specific reference, newness/givenness
in discourse and mutual/no mutual knowledge between interlocutors.
A brief analysis of the input shows a clear association between form and
function, although there are some language differences in this respect.
As soon as determiner use can be statistically analyzed, the children
show a relatively adult-like pattern of association for the distinctions of
non-specific/specific and newness/givenness. The distinction between
mutual/no mutual knowledge appears later. Reference involving no
mutual knowledge is scarcely evidenced in the input and barely used
by the children at this age. The development of associations is clearly
related to the rate of determiner development, the French being
quickest, then the English, then the Dutch.
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