The path to polarity sensitivity: Acquisition of either and too

Vortragende(r) Francis, Naomi
Institution(en) MIT
Datum 09.09.2019
Uhrzeit 15:00 Uhr
Ort 4th floor, seminar room


This talk presents an experimental investigation of how children acquire the contrasting licensing requirements of the negative polarity item (NPI) "either" and its positive polarity item (PPI) counterpart "too". We observe that i) children aged 3-5 display stable, non-categorical preferences in the direction of the adult grammar, and ii) at age 6, children exhibit a categorical, adult-like understanding of the licensing conditions of “either” but not of “too”. This adds to a growing body of results suggesting that NPIs are easier to acquire than PPIs and raises questions about how to characterize the learning mechanism that produces the observed developmental pattern.