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Information structure and scope interactions: disjunction wide scope induced by focus

Larralde, C; Konradt, A; Szendroi, K; (2021) Information structure and scope interactions: disjunction wide scope induced by focus. Frontiers in Communication , 5 , Article 595799. 10.3389/fcomm.2020.595799. Green open access

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Abstract

In this paper we investigate the scopal reading of disjunctions in French negative sentences with pre-schoolers. We posit that the French disjunctor “ou” does not fit the traditional disjunction PPI/non-PPI dichotomy according to which a wide scope is taken by a PPI disjunction and a narrow scope when the disjunction is not a PPI. We hypothesized that focus could be a succesful scopal manipulator. Using Truth Value Judgment Tasks (TVJT), we tested French pre-schoolers' scopal reading of negated disjunctions in a neutral prosody condition and with prosodic focus on the disjunctor in a between subject design. We found that as predicted, prosodic focus often enduced participants to adopt a disjunction wide scope reading whereas a disjunction narrow scope reading was favored in the neutral prosody condition. This confirmed our hypothesis that focus can manipulate disjunction scope paramaters. It also shows that, when the disjunction is focalised, children have access to the disjunction wide scope reading earlier than previously thought. Finally, we can conclude that the distinction between PPI-disjunctor vs. non-PPI disjunctor languages needs to be more fine-grained.

Type: Article
Title: Information structure and scope interactions: disjunction wide scope induced by focus
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3389/fcomm.2020.595799
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3389/fcomm.2020.595799
Language: English
Additional information: © 2021 Larralde, Konradt and Szendrői. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: information structure, focus, scope parameters, French disjunction, language acquisition, truth value judgment tasks, PPI
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Linguistics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10118769
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