Daniele Panizza (Göttingen)

“When adult speakers are not always faster than every child”. On the processing and interpretation of indirect scalar implicatures in children and adults.

We report on a set of four experiments involving offline semantic judgment and online eye-tracking ambiguity resolution of sentences including indirect Scalar Implicature triggers (i.e. not all -> some) such as (1):

Der Kapitän hat nicht mit allen Meerjungfrauen getanzt.
The captain has not with all mermaids danced

A first set of experiments implementing unbiased prosody surprisingly showed that younger children (i.e. 6 year old) were faster in identifying the target of sentence (1) as compared to adults. A second set of experiments, in which the critical sentences were recorded with natural intonation, will shed light on the nature of the results of the first study, and tell whether it is the comprehension and processing of intonation, as compared to other factors, the potential culprit of the apparently unexplainable pattern of results of the first study.