Preschoolers’ interpretation of habitual and deontic conditionals: a delayed mapping between concept and language
Keywords:Conditional constructions, conditionality, Dutch, hypotheticality, truth value judgment task
By investigating Dutch children’s interpretation habitual and deontic conditionals, this paper explores their mapping of the concepts of hypotheticality and conditionality into a corresponding linguistic form of IF-conditionals. Results of 46 children (20 girls; age range = 3;11-6;00; mean = 4;11) in a truth value judgment task with three types of stimuli, i.e. habitual conditionals, deontic conditionals, and conjunctive/additive constructions, show the following. First, the preschoolers do not exhibit different interpretation performances with the two types of conditional stimuli and the conjunctive/additive type. Second, the preschoolers show more target-like interpretation performances with deontic conditionals than habitual conditionals when it comes to the concept of conditionality. These results suggest a delayed mapping of the two concepts investigated into the corresponding linguistic construction. In other words, the syntactic construction of IF-conditional in Dutch is first acquired before the two concepts are assigned to it. Taking into consideration different factors, this paper discusses possible explanations for the delay.
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