Quantification in Swedish child language – with special reference to the quantifier expression “alla”
Author: Stellan Petersson
Publisher: GÖTEBORG UNIVERSITY Department of Swedish language
Publication date: 2006
Number of pages: 48
Format / Quality: PDF/excellent
The purpose of this paper is to analyse and discuss Swedish speaking children’s use and understanding of quantification with special reference to the quantifier expression alla (‘all’). The data has been collected from Richthoff’s corpus, the Göteborg Spoken Language Corpora and an observation period I carried out at a preschool in Göteborg.
After describing and discussing several aspects of the syntax and the semantics of Swedish quantification, I argue that we have good reasons
to treat Swedish quantifier expressions as a separate part of speech (labelled Q). I then address the following questions: Which quantifier
expressions do children use? Which quantifier expressions do adults use? How do children use quantifier expressions? How are quantifier
expressions used in speech directed to children? How do children interpret alla – generically or specifically? When do they start interpreting alla generically? I try to see what the data suggest as
answers to these questions, with special reference to the quantifier expression alla. I also present data on the syntactic and semantic
problems the children appear to have.
In section 5 I explain some of the data by introducing the psychological notion “theory of mind”, a label for social cognition apparent in adults. I argue that some of the children’s difficulties with
quantifier expressions might be due to their difficulties with shifting perspective in a social situation. Some of their problems, however, seem to arise because the category Q is not fully developed in child language
– sometimes they therefore treat the quantifier expressions as other categories. I argue that the children sometimes treat quantifier
expressions as modifiers to nouns.
At the end of the paper I suggest an
account of children’s difficulties with quantification based on a proposal for English and Korean speaking children (Kang 2001).