3 thoughts on “Three-year-olds’ comprehension of contrastive and descriptive adjectives: Evidence for contrastive inference

  1. The value of the contrastive adjectives for referential disambiguation differs across test items. Do you think children’s difficulty in incorporating contextual information is also related to their sensitivity to the overall statistics of the cue validity in the experiment?

  2. Thank you for your interesting talk and set of results. Have you thought about running a follow up that manipulates prosody? I’m wondering whether contrastive focus might support the contrastive inference. Szendroi et al. (2018) show that children as young as 3 are sensitive to contrastive focus marking. The idea would be a version that only uses the prenominal contrastive condition, but manipulates the presence vs. absence of contrastive focus on the adjective, e.g. “Where’s the LITTLE fairy?” vs. “Where’s the little FAIRY?” respectively. The latter recording would be akin to your current stimuli, while the former would involve a strong rising pitch accent on “little” followed by a deaccented “fairy”. Deaccenting requires the referent to be given, which is supplied by the visual scene. Part of what I’m thinking is that not only would the prosody of the word “little” differ across conditions, but so would the prosody leading up to the adjective if it is produced naturally. Perhaps all of this could aid children in drawing the contrastive inference by the end of the adjective, even without an added pause before the noun. Thanks again for an interesting talk!

    Szendroi et al. (2018). Acquisition of prosodic focus marking by English, French, and German three-, four-, five-and six-year-olds. Journal of child language, 45(1):219–241.

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