Affordable Access

Publisher Website

What do children know about the universal quantifiersallandeach?

Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0010-0277(96)00712-3
  • Linguistics


Abstract Children's comprehension of the universal quantifiers all and each was explored in a series of experiments using a picture selection task. The first experiment examined children's ability to restrict a quantifier to the noun phrase it modifies. The second and third experiments examined children's ability to associate collective, distributive, and exhaustive representations with sentences containing universal quantifiers. The collective representation corresponds to the “group” meaning (for All the flowers are in a vase all of the flowers are in the same vase). The distributive representation implies a pairing (e.g., each flower paired with a vase for Each flower is in a vase). The exhaustive representation exhausts both sets (e.g., for The flowers are in the vases all the flowers are in vases and all the vases have flowers in them). Four- to 10-year-old children had little difficulty restricting the quantifier all to the noun it modified in a task which required them to attend to the group feature of all. In contrast, only 9- and 10-year-olds were able to solve the task when the quantifier was each and the pictures showed entities in partial one-to-one correspondence. Children showed a preference for associating collective pictures with sentences containing all and distributive pictures with sentences containing each. The results suggest that between the ages of 5 and 10 years, children's semantic representations undergo less radical changes than others have proposed. Instead, developmental change may occur gradually as children acquire linguistic cues which map onto existing semantic representations.

There are no comments yet on this publication. Be the first to share your thoughts.