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Determiner Interpretation in Growing Grammar: Normal and Impaired Development


Studying the process of language acquisition in children yields important insights into what constitutes the human language capability. Furthermore, it can be fruitfully applied to diagnose language impairment in individual children (cf. Seymour, Roeper, and de Villiers 2000). We investigate how children acquire the interpretation of determiners like "every", "one", and "the". In the adult language these serve as the basis for forming general statements and to express logical relationships. However, man y children even at primary school age cannot correctly answer simple questions involving these words (Inhelder & Piaget 1964, Philip 1995, Crain et al. 1998, and others). Most studies so far have focused on English. The goal of this project is to exa mine other European languages, starting with German. In German the determiners "jeder", "ein", and "der" must agree in case, number and gender with the noun, which makes it unlikely that children will treat determiners in German as adverbs (cf. Philip 1995 ). The project will investigate three main components of determiner interpretation: truth conditions, implicatures, and presuppositions. The project plans to conduct experiments on German speaking children, non-impaired and impaired, and English speaking c hildren. On-going investigation by the host institution on children with specific language impairment (GLAD study) in collaboration with Kinderklinik Lindenhof in Berlin will help the current project further advance in that dimension. Furthermore, Berlin's four public pre- and primary schools as well as several other day care centers will provide a unique setting where experiments on both native German and English speaking children can be conducted. The result from normally developing children will be compa red to those of children with Specific language impairment

Field of science

  • /humanities/languages and literature/general language studies
  • /social sciences/psychology/psycholinguistics

Call for proposal

See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

IIF - Marie Curie actions-Incoming International Fellowships


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