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date: 02 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The meaning of verbal negation cannot be created ex-nihilo when words like ‘no’ and ‘not’ are first acquired. Rather, there must exist pre-lexical precursors of negation. This chapter, guided by the analysis of the meaning of early negative utterances, explores the infant cognition literature, in search of such precursors. We show that infants are able to learn behaviors relying on avoidance and to react to unfulfilled expectations. Furthermore, we present recent results suggesting that infants are able to represent the relation different (i.e. not the same), and that such representation suggests the existence of a precursor to truth-functional negation. Finally, the chapter discusses a fourth possible precursor of negation: inhibition.

Keywords: infants, preverbal, cognitive, avoidance, inhibition

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