41 research outputs found

    The development of presupposition: Pre-schoolers' understanding of regret and too

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    Little is known about presuppositional skills in pre-school years. Developmental research has mostly focused on children’s understanding of too and evidence is mixed: some studies show that the comprehension of too is not adult-like at least until school age, while more recent findings suggest that even pre-schoolers can interpret too-sentences in more age-appropriate tasks. Importantly, no study has tested directly, within the same experiment, pre-schoolers’ presupposition understanding in satisfaction versus accommodation, nor with respect to other trigger types. Yet, it is well known that adults’ processing of a presupposition is costlier when accommodation is required and that the type of trigger influences the processing demands. Therefore, both the trigger type and the contextual availability of a presupposition might influence young children’s comprehension. We tested this with a story completion task that assessed 3–5-year-olds’ comprehension of presuppositions activated by either regret or too in contexts that either satisfied the presupposition or required accommodation. Results reveal that pre-schoolers overall exhibit an understanding of presupposition. Crucially, this starkly improves between the age of 3 and 5 and the developmental trajectory depends on both context and trigger type: understanding the presupposition of regret seems easier than that of too for younger children, and less difficulties emerge when the context satisfies the presupposition. Thus, the development of presupposition comprehension in pre-schoolers depends both on the type of trigger and the contextual availability of the presupposition – satisfied versus requiring failure repair

    Testing the Causal Theory of Reference

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    Theories of reference are a crucial research topic in analytic philosophy. Since the publication of Kripke\u2019s Naming and Necessity, most philosophers have endorsed the causal/historical theory of reference. The goal of this paper is twofold: (i) to discuss a method for testing experimentally the causal theory of ref- erence for proper names by investigating linguistic usage and (ii) to present the results from two exper- iments conducted with that method. Data collected in our experiments confirm the causal theory of reference for people proper names and for geographical proper names. A secondary but interesting result is that the semantic domain affects reference assignment: while with people proper names speakers tend to assign the semantic reference, with geographical proper names they are prompted to assign the speak- er\u2019s reference

    Scambi di sensi e comprensione metaforica

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    In this paper I deal with the process involved in understanding metaphors. My aim is to show how synaesthetic sentences moderate the conflict between the minimalist point of view and the radical contextualist standpoint. Synaesthetic sentences are constituted by a term that belongs to a perceptual domain which is defined by a term that corresponds to another perceptual domain (for example “caressing voice”, “dark sound”, or “sweet smell”). In particular, I will defend two claims: first, against radical contextualism, it is possible to maintain the distinction between “what is literal” and “what is metaphorical”. Second, against the minimalist view, the literal meaning of a metaphorical utterance is not necessarily computed as a first step by default