Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 24 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the importance of pragmatic inference involving alternatives for language comprehension, reviewing the problem of restricting the inferential hypothesis space. It presents a brief overview of theoretical and empirical work on adults and then turns to developmental evidence from two characteristic case studies: scalar implicature and quantifier spreading, where children struggle when interpreting sentences including quantifiers. The authors argue that in both cases, children’s problems are closely linked to difficulties in reducing the inferential hypothesis space, while matching what is said to what is meant. Children are argued to misidentify the Question Under Discussion (QUD), which leads them to consider irrelevant alternatives and make non-adult-like inferences. When relevant alternatives are made salient and the QUD is appropriately identified, children make inferences in an adult-like manner.

Keywords: inference, alternatives, language comprehension, QUD, scalar implicature, quantifier spreading

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.