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Twenty Questions

Twenty Questions

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Twenty Questions

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  1. Twenty Questions Jill de Villiers Smith College Tom Roeper U.Mass, Amherst. ASHA, November 2003, Chicago.

  2. The Acquisition Challenge • Grammar is automatic in adults. • We are not conscious of much structure. • Questions involve many intricate steps • The child must establish the grammar of questions in English from all possible question grammars. • We hope to show there are challenges at every level.

  3. We will choose twenty structures involving questions, and describe: • The grammar involved- the mechanism • The meaning entailed in using them • The variations that occur cross-linguistically • What we know about normal acquisition • Where things could go wrong.

  4. Question 1: What's a wh-word made up of? • What’s the mechanism? • Contraction: wh- • +deictic, pronoun, or quantifier • Two morphemes: What = wh +that When = wh+then Where =wh+here Which = wh+ each Whose = wh+ ‘s

  5. Question 1: What's a wh-word made up of? • What’s the meaning? • wh- => question • ==> ranges over a set • ==> partitions the world into subsets What can you see in your house that is black that you have had for 5years?

  6. Question 1: What's a wh-word made up of? • What’s the variation across languages? a. Most forms are present in all languages b. Extra or fewer forms c. Japanese: how and why are the same d. Chinese: overt quantifier wh+somebody = who

  7. Question 1: What's a wh-word made up of? • What’s the acquisition path? 1.Children say overt examples e.g. "who somebody did that?=> discovers properties of who-that it is a hidden quantifier. 2. Children acquire the wh-words in a fairly standard order: what/where /who before how/when/why 3. Which/ whose => very late

  8. Question 1: What's a wh-word made up of? • What’s the potential for mis-steps? 1. Confuse wh-words (how and why) 2. Move part not whole Who did he read (..)‘s book 3. Could a child think *whis = wh+this?

  9. Question 2: What does movement do? • What’s the mechanism? • Connects: argument structure to wh- • Is it like co-indexation? • John-x lost his -x hat • What [+theme] -x did you buy [+theme] -x ("abstract agreement"- Chomsky 2001) Or is it movement? (see next)

  10. Question 2: What does movement do? • What’s the meaning? The meaning comes from the constituent of the sentence that the wh-word "stands in" for: He ate food. He ate what? (echo, un-moved question) Ans: "food". When the wh-word moves into the front, to spec CP, it takes on the property of a quantifier. He ate food. What did he eat? *"food", instead, a full set answer: "He ate beans, and rice, and tacos."

  11. Question 2: What does movement do? • What’s the variation across languages? 1. Some Grammars move wh(English, German) Some do not: Chinese, Turkish. You want what =what do you want 2. Some Grammars move phrases: a.the cover of which book do you like b. which book do you like the cover of Some move only wh-word (Koster 2001)

  12. Question 2: What does movement do? • What’s the acquisition path? 1. Unmoved: wh just attached initially 2. Complex wh (Phrase-movement) avoided 3. Resumptive interpretations given Whox did she help feed himx? 4. Two movements avoided (below)

  13. Question 2: What does movement do? • What’s the potential for mis-steps? • English has data which can be misanalyzed as Chinese, German.Paluaun. • a. Echo = real question (Chinese) b. Wh’s = copies (German) How did you see how to dance? c. Resumptive: Whox did she help feed himx?

  14. Question 3: Yes/no questions • What’s the mechanism? 1. Late acquired modal and tense information must move to front 2. Agreement and Tense are involved 3. Do-insertion needed if no inflectional information present *plays John Introduce "do": John do+s play Move aux: Does John play?

  15. Question 3: Yes/no questions • What’s the meaning? • Evaluation of a proposition

  16. Question 3: Yes/no questions • What’s the variation across languages? 1. Latin indicates yes/no with particle 2. German moves the main verb (as older varieties of English did) • plays John the tuba? • Now, we only do this with main verb be: • Are you sick?

  17. Question 3: Yes/no questions • What’s the acquisition path? • 1. No movement- just intonation: This is mine? You go now? 2. Children may imitate Latin “are you sneezed?”/”are this is broken?” 3. Double-insertion (Menyuk (1969)) “will you can play?” 4. Children copy before they move: “Is Tom is busy?”

  18. Question 3: Yes/no versus wh • What’s the potential for mis-steps? In addition to what occurs: a. Tense-copying “did he left?” b. Two modals: ?“should have I done that” *have been I here [have I been here]

  19. Question 4: Tag questions • What’s the mechanism? • John can sing, can't he? • Step 1: find pronoun/ John=he • Step 2: find auxiliary=can • Step 3: copy to end and invert order: can he • Step 4: change polarity of auxiliary: can not he? • Step 4: contract negation: can't he?

  20. Question 4: Tag questions • What’s the meaning? • Doubt about assertion • Asks for listener confirmation

  21. Question 4: Tag questions • What’s the variation across languages? 1. Rare phenomenon Most Grammars => not so=invariant form French: n'est-ce pas? , German: nicht wahr? 2. African-American English => do-insertion for habitual tag He be sleeping, don’t he? (Jackson et al (1996)) NB: proves BE in AAE is not same as copula BE.

  22. Question 4: Tag questions • What’s the acquisition path? 1.Non-copying form first • He can sing, huh? 2. Brown & Hanlon (1970) Adam uses Tag-questions only after: inversion, negation, and pronominalization have been acquired.

  23. Question 4: Tag questions • What’s the potential for mis-steps? a. Overuse of do-insertion • *He can sing, don’t he b. Failure to do negative reversal: *he can’t sing, can’t he c. Main Verb (does not occur) *he plays, playsn’t he

  24. Question 5: Accommodation • What’s the mechanism? (Semantic) a. limitation to context “nobody likes me” = kids, classmates, =/= no one in world b. what can you see? = in context c. what can you sing? in general or right now

  25. Question 5: Accommodation • What’s the meaning? • Presupposition accommodation is general phenomenon: • Do you have the keys? Presupposes there are keys and we both know about them.

  26. Question 5: Accommodation • What’s the variation across languages? • This may be a true universal • Asian languages: arguments can be contextual: Let me give you (object visual)

  27. Question 5: Accommodation • What’s the acquisition path? 1. Unknown 2. All children must accommodate to answer any question 3. Generic questions => beyond context (Gelman (2002), Perez & Gavarros, (2003)) a. what color are these apples? b. what color are apples?

  28. Question 5: Accommodation • What’s the potential for mis-steps? - Misconstrue the domain of questions Teacher: “What’s in this book?” Chapters, ideas, stories, words Result: Mystified students: Problem assumed to be “cognitive” but could be linguistic.

  29. Question 6:adjuncts and arguments • What’s the mechanism? Arguments are obligatory: a. *John smashed__ b. John smashed something c. What did John smash__? Smash has no meaning without an object Adjuncts: are optional in appearance: d. When did John smash the bowl? When is added, so the child has to know what kind of adjunct it stands for.

  30. Question 6: Arguments and adjuncts • What’s the meaning? Different verbs have different likely adjuncts: where did he drive? is more likely than where did you sneeze? Children are sensitive to these 'hidden' expectations of verbs (Winzemer, 1981). Ambiguity can arise as to the site of the adjunct: which verb does it come from? when did John say__ he swam __?

  31. Question 6: Expected questions: arguments and adjuncts • What’s the variation across languages? • Homophony with conjunctions Bill shouted when John came = When John came, Bill shouted =Bill shouted what time John came • French allows unmoved adjuncts Except why (pourquoi) il va ou [he goes where] *il va pourquoi [he goes why]

  32. Question 6: Expected questions: arguments and adjuncts • What’s the acquisition path? • A. Evidence that children adjoin without movement a. no inversion “how you eat peaches?” “what he can do” b. inversion appears gradually arguments first, then adjuncts- why is last (deVilliers (1991), Thornton (2003))

  33. Question 6: Expected questions: arguments and adjuncts • What’s the potential for mis-steps? Several parameters must be set: a. move or not move b. long-distance movement or not In addition, children need to fix the argument structure of verbs: eg. that smash is transitive And, they need to differentiate the meanings of the adjuncts to answer them right.

  34. Question 7: Why and How • What’s the mechanism? • Movement or Adjunction • Special syntax for why: no movement why go outside why baseball *where baseball Note: direct adjunction to IP,VP, NP

  35. Question 7: Why and How • What’s the meaning? • Sentential, verbphrase, verb • Each have a different meaning • How can people win elections • How1 = sentence--how come?-by law (vote count) • How 2= verbphrase- style - by TV • How 3 = verb - manner--by accident

  36. Question 7: Why and How • What’s the variation across languages? • A, How and why confusable How = how come = why (like Chinese) • B. Idioms • How nice! • How about that?

  37. Question 7: Why and How • What’s the acquisition path? A. evidence of confusion of meanings “how do you eat?” -“because I am hungry” B. Adjunction before movement C. In the "why" stage, children ask t everywhere, even inappropriately: Why moon? Why the garage door? (Blank, 1975).

  38. Question 7: Why and How • What’s the potential for mis-steps? Children can continue to confuse how and why cf: Morphology: Would children mistake the internal structure of how = *wh+now? And why is there no "somewhy"? (somewhat, somewhere, somehow…)

  39. Question 8: Double wh • What’s the mechanism? Example: How did the girl play what? “She played the drums with her feet and the piano with her hands” b. co-indexing wh - => paired sets c. Pairing effect still underexplained

  40. This girl played different things in different ways. She played the drums with her feet and the piano with her hands. How did the girl play what? c. The Psychological Corporation

  41. Typical Answers to double WH questions • PAIRED, EXHAUSTIVE responses • Ex. She played the piano with her hands and the drums with her feet. • SINGLETONS (Incorrect) • One element: “piano” “with her feet” • Both objects, no instruments: “piano and drums” • One pair: “the piano with her hands.” • OTHER • “She played a lot.” “She was playing.”

  42. Question 8: Double wh • What’s the meaning? • Exhaustive set of whos linked to exhaustive set of whats • Idioms: who’s who what’s what

  43. Question 8: Double wh • What’s the variation across languages? 1.Some grammars allow both wh- to move: Bulgarian => who what ate? 2. Some grammars allow opposite order *What did who eat ? (German) 5. Italian: no double wh- • [who’s who requires a paraphrase]

  44. Question 8: Double wh • What’s the acquisition path? 1. Singletons 2. Single Pairing 3. Exhaustive pairing By 3 or 4, normally developing children are giving paired answers. (Roeper & de Villiers, 1993)

  45. Question 8: Double wh • What’s the potential for mis-steps? The major error among language- disordered children seems to be giving singleton answers persistently even at later ages. (Finneran, 1993; Seymour, Roeper, de Villiers, de Villiers & Pearson, in press).

  46. Question 9: Wh and sets • What’s the mechanism? UG => "moved" wh questions inherently allow multiple answers (unlike echoes). (In languages without surface movement, the wh still moves at "hidden" logical form) Cognitive dimension: possible

  47. Question 9: Wh and sets • What’s the meaning? Who = wh+every => exhaustive set who was in the car the night of the murder? Perjury if set is not exhaustive!

  48. Question 9: Wh and sets • What’s the variation across languages? Some languages (Jakartan Indonesian) lack a quantifier in the wh word (Cole et al, 2001) Chinese: explicitly, who = wh+somebody Japanese: wh=wh+everybody

  49. Question 9: Wh and sets • What’s the acquisition path? • Hypothesis: all children begin with singleton analysis = immature grammar of English, but possible UG option.

  50. Question 9: Wh and sets • What’s the potential for mis-steps? 1. Failure to progress beyond singleton stage 2. Failure to achieve pairing (Finneran, 1993; Seymour, Roeper, de Villiers, de Villiers & Pearson, in press).