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RutgersLing: Valentine Hacquard
April 26, 2013 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
This talk examines asymmetries in the semantics of attitude verbs and in their acquisition. An extensive number of studies show that young children display difficulty with verbs like think but not want. This difficulty is often interpreted as reflecting an asymmetry in conceptual development: while the desire concept is acquired early, children fail to grasp the concept of belief until their fourth birthday. This talk explores an alternative explanation for the asymmetry in children’s understanding of think and want, which doesn’t rely on a fundamental change in conceptual structure. Based on results from our lab, I will argue instead that asymmetries in the syntax, semantics and pragmatics of these verbs conspire to give rise to the asymmetry in their acquisition.