The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Colloquium 9/30 — Valentine Hacquard

Speaker: Valentine Hacquard (University of Maryland)
Title: Grasping at factivity
Date: Friday, Sept. 30th
Time: 3:30-5:00 PM
Place: 32-155 (please note that the venue has changed from 32-141 to 32-155)

Speakers mean more than their sentences do, because they can take a lot about their audience for granted. This talk explores how presuppositions and pragmatic enrichments play out in acquisition. How do children untangle semantic from pragmatic contributions to what speakers mean? The case study I will focus on is how children learn the meaning of the words think and know. When and how do children figure out that think but not know can be used to report false beliefs? When and how do they figure out that with know, but not think, speakers tend to presuppose the truth of the complement clause? I will suggest that the path of acquisition is traced by the child’s understanding both of where such verbs occur, and of why speakers use them. (joint work with Rachel Dudley and Jeff Lidz)