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  1. Lila R. Gleitman, Anna Papafragou & John C. Trueswell, Hard Words.
    How do children acquire the meaning of words? And why are words such as know harder for learners to acquire than words such as dog or jump? We suggest that the chief limiting factor in acquiring the vocabulary of natural languages consists not in overcoming conceptual difficulties with abstract word meanings but rather in mapping these meanings onto their corresponding lexical forms. This opening premise of our position, while controversial, is shared with some prior approaches. The present discussion moves forward (...)
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  2. Felicia Hurewitz, Anna Papafragou & Lila Gleitman, Asymmetries in the Acquisition of Numbers and Quantifiers.
    Number terms and quantifiers share a range of linguistic (syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic) properties. On the basis of these similarities, one might expect these 2 classes of linguistic expression to pose similar problems to children acquiring language. We report here the results of an experiment that explicitly compared the acquisition of numerical expressions (two, four) and quantificational (some, all) expressions in younger and older 3-year-olds. Each group showed adult-like preferences for “exact” interpretations when evaluating number terms; however they did not (...)
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  3. Anna Papafragou, Evidential Morphology and Theory of Mind.
    The perennial fascination with the relationship between language and thought has generated much research across various disciplines. In recent years, commentators have called for closer examination of the connection between language acquisition and conceptual development (Bowerman & Levinson, 2001). Rather than assuming that language development always presupposes cognitive development, several researchers have started considering whether language learning could transform conceptual structure by making certain concepts available to the learner (e.g., de Villiers & Pyers, 1997; Gopnik & Choi, 1995; Bowerman, 1996).
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  4. Anna Papafragou, Modality and Theory of Mind: Perspectives From Language Development and Autism.
    It is widely assumed in the developmental literature that certain classes of modal expression appear later in language acquisition than others; specifically, epistemic interpretations lag behind non-epistemic (or root) interpretations. An explanation for these findings is proposed in terms of the child’s developing theory of mind, i.e. the ability to attribute to oneself and others mental representations, and to reason inferentially about them. It is hypothesized that epistemic modality crucially implicates theory-of-mind abilities and is therefore expected to depend on (...)
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  5. Anna Papafragou, On Speech-Act Modality~.
    In this paper I reconsider Sweetser's (1990) proposal to include 'speech-act modality' in the categories of modality expressed by natural language alongside the traditional cases of root and epistemic modality. I propose a reanalysis of her examples using the relevance-theoretic notion of metarepresentation. Rather than assuming that there is a separate speech-act domain for modal operators in natural language to range over, I suggest that the material embedded under modal operators is sometimes used metarepresentationally, a possibility which (...)
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  6. Anna Papafragou, Scalar Implicatures in Language Acquisition: Some Evidence From Modern Greek.
    According to the standard analysis, quantifiers such as , connectives such as , modals such as and a host of other expressions form informational scales (Horn, 1972). In the canonical case, informational scales are defined on the basis of entailment (e.g. p and q asymmetrically entails p or q). Given the Gricean assumption that speakers try to say as much as they truthfully can that is relevant to the conversational exchange, the fact that an informationally weaker term was used in (...)
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  7. John C. Trueswell & Anna Papafragou, Perceiving and Remembering Events Cross-Linguistically: Evidence From Dual-Task Paradigms.
    What role does language play during attention allocation in perceiving and remembering events? We recorded adults‟ eye movements as they studied animated motion events for a later recognition task. We compared native speakers of two languages that use different means of expressing motion (Greek and English). In Experiment 1, eye movements revealed that, when event encoding was made difficult by requiring a concurrent task that did not involve language (tapping), participants spent extra time studying what their language treats as the (...)
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  8. Anna Papafragou, Aspectuality and Scalar Structure.
    This paper focuses on the semantic and pragmatic properties of certain aspectual predicates (e.g. start) and degree modifiers (e.g. half). As is wellknown, such terms typically give rise to SCALAR IMPLICATURES (SIs). For instance, an utterance such as (1a) or (2a) is often taken to carry the implicature in (1b) and (2b) respectively.
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  9. Anna Papafragou, Asymmetries in the Acquisition of Numbers and Quantifiers.
    Number terms and quantifiers share a range of linguistic (syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic) properties. On the basis of these similarities, one might expect these 2 classes of linguistic expression to pose similar problems to children acquiring language. We report here the results of an experiment that explicitly compared the acquisition of numerical expressions (two, four) and quantificational (some, all) expressions in younger and older 3-year-olds. Each group showed adult-like preferences for “exact” interpretations when evaluating number terms; however they did not (...)
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  10. Anna Papafragou, Book Review. [REVIEW]
    To those who have not followed recent advances in pragmatics, the sub-title of Robyn Carston’s book may seem surprising, even paradoxical. Indeed, until recently, the dominant view among most linguists and philosophers was that pragmatics dealt with implicit aspects of communication, mainly implicatures, while explicit, literal meaning was delivered by decoding the linguistic (semantic) content of utterances. Grice clearly held that view: even though he recognized that pragmatic processes of disambiguation or reference assignment have to contribute to ‘what is said’, (...)
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  11. Anna Papafragou, Children's Acquisition of Evidentiality.
    This paper is concerned with the acquisition of the semantics and pragmatics of evidentiality. Evidentiality markers encode the speaker’s source for the information being reported in the utterance. While languages like English express evidentiality in lexical markers (I saw that it was raining vs. I heard that it was raining), other languages grammaticalize evidentiality. In Turkish, for all instances of past reference there is an obligatory choice between the suffixes -DI (realized as –di, -dı, -du, -dü, -ti, -tı, -tu, -tü (...)
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  12. Anna Papafragou, Children's Acquisition of Epistemic Modality.
    This paper is concerned with the acquisition of certain aspects of the meaning of epistemic modal verbs. Epistemic modals encode the probability, predictability or certainty of the proposition embedded under the modal verb. The sentences in (1) are examples of epistemic modality1.
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  13. Anna Papafragou, Experience and Concept Attainment: Some Critical Remarks.
    The aim of this paper is to reconsider certain assumptions about conceptual structure which have become influential in recent Cognitive Science and which are associated in particular with the Cognitive Linguistics research agenda. I will outline three areas within the Cognitive Linguistics theory of concepts which seem to create some difficulties in their present formulation: the 'embodied cognition' idea, the function of imagery and the role of metaphor in the structure of concepts.
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  14. Anna Papafragou, Early Communication: Beyond Speech-Act Theory.
    For the past two decades, speech-act theory has been one of the basic tools for studying pragmatics from both a theoretical and an experimental perspective. In this paper, I want to discuss certain aspects of the theory with respect to data from early communication in children. My aim will be to show that some of the central assumptions of the speech-act model of utterance comprehension need to be rethought. In the second part of the paper, I will outline a different (...)
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  15. Anna Papafragou, Epistemic Modality and Truth Conditions.
    Within the linguistics literature it is often claimed that epistemic modality, unlike other kinds of modality, does not contribute to truth-conditional content. In this paper I challenge this view. I reanalyze a variety of arguments which have been used in support of the non-truth-conditional view and show that they can be handled on an alternative analysis of epistemic modality. # 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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  16. Anna Papafragou, Figurative Language and the Semantics-Pragmatics Distinction.
    This paper aims at demonstrating that the cognitive mechanisms underlying certain tropes (e.g. metaphor or metonymy) may assume variable degrees of conventionalisation, thereby giving rise to a range of phenomena along either side of the semantics/ pragmatics distinction. Examining specifically cases of metonymy, I propose a pragmatic account of creative, one-off metonymic expressions using the framework of relevance theory; my main argument is that metonymy is a variety of the interpretive use of language. I further look at degrees of conventionalisation (...)
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  17. Anna Papafragou, From Scalar Semantics to Implicature : Children's Interpretation of Aspectuals.
    One of the tasks of language learning is the discovery of the intricate division of labour between the lexical-semantic content of an expression and the pragmatic inferences the expression can be used to convey. Here we investigate experimentally the development of the semantics– pragmatics interface, focusing on Greek-speaking five-year-olds’ interpretation of aspectual expressions such as arxizo (‘ start ’) and degree modifiers such as miso (‘ half ’) and mexri ti mesi (‘ halfway ’). Such expressions are known to give (...)
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  18. Anna Papafragou, Language.
    All human communities have, and use, language. Language allows humans to refer to objects, properties, actions, abstract entities, and other aspects of the world, and to convey and retrieve thoughts in a way that seems both fast and effortless. Both in terms of its complexity and internal structure and in terms of its expressive power, human language is well beyond any communicative system available to nonhumans. Below we survey some basic empirical evidence and theorizing about the nature and properties of (...)
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  19. Anna Papafragou, Language and Cognition Lab.
    What is the nature of the underlying representations and mechanisms which allow very young children to acquire the words and structures of their native language? Our research looks especially at children between the ages of 3-5 when language acquisition still proceeds rapidly and uses multiple methodologies, including act-out tasks, truth value judgment tasks, and elicited imitation and production tasks.
     
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  20. Anna Papafragou, Lexical and Structural Cues for Acquiring Motion Verbs Cross-Linguistically.
    Languages differ systematically in how they map path and manner of motion onto lexical and grammatical structures (Talmy, 1985). Manner languages (e.g., English, German and Russian) typically code manner in the verb (cf. English skip, run, hop, jog), and path in a variety of other devices such as particles (out), adpositions (into the room), verb affixes, etc. Path languages (e.g., Modern Greek, Romance, Turkish, Japanese and Hebrew) typically code path in the verb (cf. Greek vjeno ‘exit’, beno ‘enter’, ftano ‘reach’, (...)
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  21. Anna Papafragou, Metonymy and Relevance.
    In the first half of the paper I critically review some previous attempts to deal with metonymy. I focus in particular on the classical approach, the associationist approach and the Gricean approach. The main point of my criticisms is that the notion of empirical associations among objects is in itself inadequate for a complete descriptive and explanatory account of metonymy.
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  22. Anna Papafragou, Motion Event Conflation and Clause Structure.
    How do languages of the world refer to motion? According to one widely held view, languages draw on a pool of common ‘building blocks’ in representing motion events, such as figure and ground, path (or trajectory), manner, cause of motion, and so on (cf. Talmy, 1985). Nevertheless, individual languages differ both in the elements they select out of the available stock of motion ‘primitives’ and in the way they conflate them into specific lexical and clausal structures (Talmy, 1985; Slobin, 1996a; (...)
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  23. Anna Papafragou, Motion Events in Language and Cognition.
    The relation between language and thought has held a constant fascination for students of human cognition. In recent years, the question of whether language shapes or is shaped by cognitive categories has been at the center of debates on language and thought. One position, commonly referred to as ‘linguistic determinism’ (or ‘linguistic relativity’), has been particularly forcefully argued for by Benjamin Whorf. According to Whorf (1956: 212).
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  24. Anna Papafragou, Modality in Language Development: A Reconsideration of the Evidence.
    The set of English modal verbs is widely recognised to communicate two broad clusters of meanings: epistemic and root modal meanings. A number of researchers have claimed that root meanings are acquired earlier than epistemic ones; this claim has subsequently been employed in the linguistics literature as an argument for the position that English modal verbs are polysemous (Sweetser 1990). In this paper I offer an alternative explanation for the later emergence of epistemic interpretations by liniking them to the development (...)
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  25. Anna Papafragou, On Generics.
    In this paper I argue against previous approaches to the semantics of generics which involved the notions of prototype, stereotype and relevant quantification. I assume that the logical form of generics includes a generic operator which, as Heim (1992) has suggested, can be construed as the modal operator of necessity. After demonstrating that the presence of the generic operator in a semantic representation, as well as its domain of quantification, are pragmatically supplied, I go on to show how the various (...)
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  26. Anna Papafragou, On the Acquisition of Motion Verbs Cross-Linguistically.
    Languages encode motion in strikingly different ways. Languages such as English communicate the manner of motion through verbs (e.g., roll, pop), while languages such as Greek often lexicalize the path of motion in verbs (e.g., ascend, pass). In a set of studies with English- and Greek-speaking adults and 5-year-olds, we ask how such lexical constraints are combined with structural cues in hypothesizing meanings for novel motion verbs. We show that lexicalization biases generate different interpretations of novel motion verbs across ages (...)
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  27. Anna Papafragou, Spatial Position in Language and Visual Memory: A Cross-Linguistic Comparison.
    German and English speakers employ different strategies to encode static spatial scenes involving the axial position (standing vs. lying) of an inanimate figure object with respect to a ground object. In a series of three experiments, we show that this linguistic difference is not reflected in native speakers’ ability to detect changes in axial position in nonlinguistic memory tasks. Furthermore, even when participants are required to use language to encode a spatial scene, they do not rely on language during a (...)
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  28. Anna Papafragou, The Acquisition of Evidentiality and Source Monitoring.
    Evidential markers encode the source of a speaker’s knowledge. While some languages express evidentiality by lexical markers (e.g. I saw that it was raining vs. I heard that it was raining), about a quarter of world’s languages grammaticalize evidentiality through specialized markers. For instance, Turkish obligatorily marks all instances of past reference with one of the following two suffixes: -DI (the neutral form, which denotes the past of direct experience and is realized as –di, -dı, -du, -dü, -ti, -tı, (...)
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  29. Anna Papafragou, The Acquisition of Evidentiality in Turkish.
    This paper is concerned with the acquisition of the semantics and pragmatics of evidential markers in Turkish. Evidential markers encode the speaker’s source for the information being reported in the utterance. While some languages like English express evidentiality by lexical markers (I saw that it was raining vs. I heard that it was raining) Turkish grammaticalizes evidentiality through specialized markers. Specifically, for all instances of past reference in Turkish there is an obligatory choice between the following two suffixes: -DI1, (denotes (...)
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  30. Anna Papafragou, The Pragmatics of Number.
    dwarfs loved Snow White). We report here results from two experiments with young speakers of Modern Greek which support the opposite conclusion: namely, that..
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  31. Megan Johanson & Anna Papafragou (2014). What Does Children's Spatial Language Reveal About Spatial Concepts? Evidence From the Use of Containment Expressions. Cognitive Science 38 (2):881-910.
    Children's overextensions of spatial language are often taken to reveal spatial biases. However, it is unclear whether extension patterns should be attributed to children's overly general spatial concepts or to a narrower notion of conceptual similarity allowing metaphor-like extensions. We describe a previously unnoticed extension of spatial expressions and use a novel method to determine its origins. English- and Greek-speaking 4- and 5-year-olds used containment expressions (e.g., English into, Greek mesa) for events where an object moved into another object but (...)
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  32. Ann Bunger, John C. Trueswell & Anna Papafragou (2012). The Relation Between Event Apprehension and Utterance Formulation in Children: Evidence From Linguistic Omissions. Cognition 122 (2):135-149.
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  33. Peggy Li, Linda Abarbanell, Lila Gleitman & Anna Papafragou (2011). Spatial Reasoning in Tenejapan Mayans. Cognition 120 (1):33-53.
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  34. John C. Trueswell, Anna Papafragou & Youngon Choi (2011). Referential and Syntactic Processes: What Develops? In Edward Gibson & Neal J. Pearlmutter (eds.), The Processing and Acquisition of Reference. The Mit Press. 65.
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  35. Anna Papafragou (2010). Source-Goal Asymmetries in Motion Representation: Implications for Language Production and Comprehension. Cognitive Science 34 (6):1064-1092.
    Recent research has demonstrated an asymmetry between the origins and endpoints of motion events, with preferential attention given to endpoints rather than beginnings of motion in both language and memory. Two experiments explore this asymmetry further and test its implications for language production and comprehension. Experiment 1 shows that both adults and 4-year-old children detect fewer within-category changes in source than goal objects when tested for memory of motion events; furthermore, these groups produce fewer references to source than goal objects (...)
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  36. Anna Papafragou, Justin Hulbert & John Trueswell (2008). Does Language Guide Event Perception? Evidence From Eye Movements. Cognition 108 (1):155.
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  37. Anna Papafragou (2007). Evidentiality in Language and Cognition. Cognition 103 (2):253-299.
  38. Anna Papafragou (2007). When We Think About Thinking: The Acquisition of Belief Verbs. Cognition 105 (1):125.
    Mental-content verbs such as think, believe, imagine and hope seem to pose special problems for the young language learner. One possible explanation for these diYculties is that the concepts that these verbs express are hard to grasp and therefore their acquisition must await relevant conceptual development. According to a diVerent, perhaps complementary, proposal, a major contributor to the diYculty of these items lies with the informational requirements for identifying them from the contexts in which they appear. The experiments reported here (...)
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  39. Anna Papafragou (2006). When English Proposes What Greek Presupposes: The Cross-Linguistic Encoding of Motion Events. Cognition 98 (3):75-87.
    How do we talk about events we perceive? And how tight is the connection between linguistic and non-linguistic representations of events? To address these questions, we experimentally compared motion descriptions produced by children and adults in two typologically distinct languages, Greek and English. Our findings confirm a well-known asymmetry between the two languages, such that English speakers are overall more likely to include manner of motion information than Greek speakers. However, mention of manner of motion in Greek speakers' descriptions increases (...)
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  40. Lila Gleitman & Anna Papafragou (2005). Language and Thought. In K. Holyoak & B. Morrison (eds.), Cambridge Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning. Cambridge University Press. 633--661.
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  41. Anna Papafragou, Christine Massey & Lila Gleitman (2004). When English Proposes What Greek Presupposes: The Cross-Linguistic Encoding of Motion. Cognition 98:B75 - B87.
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  42. Rob Jenkins, A. Mike Burton, Andrew W. Ellis, Bart Geurts, Anna Papafragou & Julien Musolino (2003). Andrea L. patalano. Cognition 86:319-321.
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  43. Anna Papafragou (2002). Mindreading and Verbal Communication. Mind and Language 17 (1&2):55–67.
    The idea that verbal communication involves a species of mindreading is not new. Among linguists and philosophers, largely as a result of Grice’s (1957, 1967) influence, it has long been recognized that the act of communicating involves on the part of the communicator and the addressee mutual metarepresentations of each others’ mental states. In psychology, the coordination of common ground and attention in conversation has been pursued in a variety of studies (e.g. Clark and Marshall, 1981; Bruner, 1983).
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  44. Anna Papafragou (2002). Shake, Rattle, 'N' Roll: The Representation of Motion in Language and Cognition. Cognition 84 (2):189-219.
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  45. Anna Papafragou (1998). The Acquisition of Modality: Implications for Theories of Semantic Representation. Mind and Language 13 (3):370–399.
    The set of English modal verbs is widely recognized to communicate two broad clusters of meanings: epistemic and root modal meanings. A number of researchers have claimed that root meanings are acquired earlier than epistemic ones; this claim has subsequently been employed in the linguistics literature as an argument for the position that English modal verbs are polysemous (Sweetser, 1990). In this paper I offer an alternative explanation for the later emergence of epistemic interpretations by linking them to the development (...)
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  46. Anna Papafragou, Lexical and Structural Biases in the Acquisition of Motion Verbs.
    It is well known that languages differ in how they encode motion. Languages such as English use verbs that communicate the manner of motion (e.g., climb, float), while languages such as Greek often encode the path of motion in verbs (e.g., advance, exit). In two studies with English- and Greek-speaking adults and 5-year-olds, we ask how such lexical constraints are used in combination with structural cues in hypothesizing meanings for novel motion verbs cross-linguistically. We show that lexicalization biases affect the (...)
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