Modeling scope ambiguity resolution as pragmatic inference: Formalizing differences in child and adult behavior

Abstract

Investigations of scope ambiguity resolution suggest that child behavior differs from adult behavior, with children struggling to access inverse scope interpretations. For example, children often fail to accept Every horse didn’t succeed to mean not all the horses succeeded. Current accounts of children’s scope behavior involve both pragmatic and processing factors. Inspired by these accounts, we use the Rational Speech Act framework to articulate a formal model that yields a more precise, explanatory, and predictive description of the observed developmental behavior.


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