On interaction between syntactic operations and semantic interpretations in child grammar

Organizer and Chair:Kiguchi Hirohisa

Much of the literature on children’s acquisition of syntax and semantics has shown that children have the same kinds of abstract linguistic representations as adults (see Crain (1991) among others). In addition, some recent work in the relevant field has provided us with evidence that children maintain the same kind of abstract linguistic computation to achieve the representation. (cf. Kiguchi & Thornton (2004) and Syrett & Lidz (2009))

The purpose of this workshop is to bring to the Japanese linguistic community updated studies on the interaction between syntactic operations and semantic interpretations in child grammar, as various computations and representations have been recently scrutinized in this line of the research paradigm.

The Anti-Reconstruction Effect and Grammar Variation in Japanese

Takuya Goro

This study reports the results of series of experimental investigation on Japanese speakers’ scope interpretation in sentences containing a complement clause that undergoes the process called ‘restructuring’. Our experimental data, elicited from both adults and preschoolers, reveal two main points. First, adults are divided into two populations: some speakers always apply restructuring to non-finite complements of verbs like wasureru ‘forget’, whereas others only sometimes do. Second, children do not have any default bias towards either of these possible grammars. These results corroborate Han et al.’s (2007) claim that language learners may choose a parameter setting at random when the crucial data are largely absent in the input.

A truncated cleft analysis on inverted pseudoclefts in English

Hirohisa Kiguchi

This paper seeks to deal with the derivation for ‘inverted’ pseudoclefts in English in a way that Bachrach (2003) treats pseudoclefts in French and Hebrew. Bachrach (2003) argues that pseudoclefts in French and Hebrew should be derived from a truncated cleft like (1).

(1) [TOP What John is] [CP it is [important to himself]i that John is ti ]

While Bachrach (2003) suggests that ‘inverted’ pseudoclefts in English could be analyzed as truncated clefts the details of such analysis remain unclear. This paper claims that given Koster’s (1978) classic analysis on sentential subjects and Rizzi’s (1997) fine structure of the left periphery, Bacharach’s proposal can be extended to English.

Pseudocleft Structures in Child English

Rosalind Thornton

The investigation reports English-speaking children’s comprehension of disjunction in ‘inverted’ pseudoclefts as in (1), and Principle C in ‘uninverted’ structures like (2).

(1) A pack of cards or a rabbit is what every/no magician chose
(2) *What hei said was the blue magiciani's trick was the best

On a typical trial, some magicians chose cards, and others rabbits, but none chose scarves. Children correctly assigned the conjunctive entailment of disjunction in (1), rejecting the sentence with no, and accepting every. Children rejected (2), while accepting its bound-variable equivalent. Children’s adult-like interpretations suggest they have mastered the syntax-semantics interface for pseudoclefts.