The influence of conversational context and the developing lexicon on the calculation of scalar implicatures: Insights from Spanish-English bilingual children

Kristen Syrett, Jennifer Austin, Liliana Sanchez, Christina Germak, Anne Lingwall, Silvia Perez-Cortes, Anthony Arias-Amaya, Hannah Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although monolingual children do not generally calculate the upper-bounded scalar implicature (SI) associated with 'some' without additional support, monolingual Spanish-speaking children have been reported to do so with algunos ('some'), and further distinguish algunos from unos. Given documented cross-linguistic influence in interface phenomena in bilinguals, we asked whether young Spanish-English bilinguals calculate SIs with algunos, or if there is an effect of acquiring languages with overlapping but diverging lexical entries. Two experiments reveal that not only do bilinguals inconsistently calculate SIs, Spanish monolinguals do not always either. In Experiment 1, bilinguals did not calculate the SI associated with algunos. However, in Experiment 2, which calls upon their awareness of speaker-hearer dynamics, they did. This research highlights the challenges arising from interpreting linguistic phenomena where lexical, semantic, and pragmatic information intersect, and is a call for further investigation with bilinguals in a rapidly growing area where bilingual research is lacking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)230-264
Number of pages35
JournalLinguistic Approaches to Bilingualism
Volume7
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

Keywords

  • Cross-linguistic influence
  • Pragmatics
  • Scalar implicatures

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