Veronica Bressan

It is a well-known acquisitional issue that preschool children avoid the derivation of scalar implicatures (SIs), i.e., they seem unable to process the implicit layer of meaning that is normally attached to scalar terms. Focusing on the scale of quantifiers <some, all> and based on previous grammar-based approaches, I argue for a syntactic, criterial interpretation of scalar implicatures, consisting in a feature-checking process of a [scalar] trait. When such derivation is paired with other operations connected to the scalar terms at issue, it may become problematic for preschool children: in the case of some, SI derivation is combined with Quantifier Raising, and I show that the structural and featural configuration of the constituents involved in the two operations leads to intervention effects (as predicted by Featural Relativized Minimality, Rizzi 2004) via featural inclusion. In this spirit, a parallel between the acquisitional trajectory of SIs triggered by some and complex object A’-dependencies is put forth, where the non-enriched, plain interpretation of the scalar term in preschool years is understood as an attempt to modulate intervention.

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