Home > Events > LangSci Lunch Talk: Anouk Dieuleveut (LING)
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LangSci Lunch Talk: Anouk Dieuleveut (LING)

Time: 
Thursday, November 09, 2017 - 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM
Location: 
2130 H. J. Patterson (LSC)

Sorting out possibilities and necessities

How do children acquire the meaning of modals, words like “may” and “must”, which express possibilities and necessities? Modal meanings vary along two dimensions. First, they vary in “force”: modals either express possibility (e.g.,can, may) or necessity (e.g., have to, must). Second, modality comes in different “flavors”, which are often expressed by the same modal words: a sentence like “Mary must swim regularly”, for instance, can either express an ‘epistemic' necessity (Mary is probably a swimmer) or a ‘deontic’ necessity (Mary has an obligation to swim regularly). How do children figure the force and flavor(s) of their modals? The acquisition literature shows that young children struggle with both aspects: they tend to accept possibility modals in contexts where adults prefer necessity modals, and they tend to produce epistemic flavors late. In this talk, I will examine potential sources of difficulty, using results from a corpus study and from a novel word experiment.

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Food and ideas bring people together. Our weekly lunch talk series provides students and faculty with the opportunity to present their in-progress work to a supportive, interdisciplinary audience.

Lunch is served starting at 12:15pm.