LingLunch : Gabriela Bîlbîie

Jeudi 15 Février 2024, 12:00 to 13:00
Karen De Clercq et Ira Noveck (LLF)

LLF – Bât. ODG – 5e étage – Salle du conseil (533)

Gabriela Bîlbîie (University of Bucharest)
On the conjunctive interpretation of disjunction. Evidence from child Romanian

Multiple studies show that adults interpret simplex disjunction (The hen pushed the train or the boat) both inclusively (The hen pushed one, possibly both) or exclusively (The hen pushed either one but not both), while they generally interpret complex disjunction (e.g., either…or) exclusively. Children, however, have been found to be inclusive, exclusive or conjunctive (The hen pushed both) with simplex and complex disjunctions alike (Singh et al. 2016, Tieu et al. 2017, a.o.). While the inclusive interpretation has been typically explained as a logical interpretation of disjunction (Noveck 2001), the conjunctive interpretation of disjunction has been a source of debate: some researchers have argued it is merely an experimental artifact (Huang & Crain 2020, Skordos et al. 2020), while others have argued it is a genuine semantic-pragmatic interpretation (Singh et al. 2016, Tieu et al. 2017), possibly arising either from a special kind of implicature (Singh et al. 2016) or a conjunctive default meaning, possibly alongside inclusive disjunction (Sauerland & Yatsushiro 2018). We here bring data from child Romanian that supports the idea that the conjunctive interpretation of disjunction is not merely an experimental artifact, but a genuine semantic-pragmatic interpretation: while inclusive with Romanian sau-based disjunctions, children are often conjunctive with the complex disjunction fie...fie. We then ask the question whether this interpretation arises via a conjunctive default and bring experimental evidence from a nonce word task that both children and adults do indeed have a tendency to interpret nonce binary operators such as mo or in the train mo the boat or mo the train mo the boat as coordination. Last but not least, we show experimentally that Romanian children are less conjunctive and more exclusive (adult-like) with disjunction if the disjuncts are incompatible, as in The squirrel was either at the top of the tree or at the bottom of the tree. This is in line with previous studies conducted on adults on the role of plausibility in implicature derivation (Jasbi et al. 1018, 2022, Felton & Jasbi 2023).