Linguistics and English Language

Bilingualism and Developmental Linguistics research group

Speaker: Professor Hugh Rabagliati (University of Edinburgh)

Title: Learning dimensions of meaning

Abstract: Connectives such as “but” carry content that does not fit neatly into the traditional distinction between expressed and implicated meanings. This content is abstract, it is meta-linguistic, and it is hard to describe: indeed, there’s still a messy confusion about what sort of meaning “but” actually carries. Yet anecdotally at least, learning to use words like “but” does not appear to present much of a challenge for children: At least by the age of three, they not only say the word “but” frequently, they appear to use it appropriately, too. Here, however, I’ll present data that this early competence at production is illusory, and masks a striking difficulty at interpreting the meaning of connectives during comprehension. A suite of experiments indicate that children do not fully grasp the meanings of discourse connectives until they are in formal education. I’ll discuss the implications of this for development, semantics and education. 


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Nov 21 2022 -

Bilingualism and Developmental Linguistics research group

2022-11-21: Learning dimensions of meaning

Room LG.10, 40 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9JX