Conservativity and Learnability of Determiners

Journal of Semantics 30 (3):315-334 (2013)
Abstract
A striking cross-linguistic generalisation about the semantics of determiners is that they never express non-conservative relations. To account for this one might hypothesise that the mechanisms underlying human language acquisition are unsuited to non-conservative determiner meanings. We present experimental evidence that 4- and 5-year-olds fail to learn a novel non-conservative determiner but succeed in learning a comparable conservative determiner, consistent with the learnability hypothesis
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