Cross-linguistic patterns in the acquisition of quantifiers

Katsos, Napoleon
Cummins, Chris
Ezeizabarrena, Maria-Jose
Gavarro, Anna
Kraljevic, Jelena Kuvac
Hrzica, Gordana
Grohmann, Kleanthes K.
Skordi, Athina
de Lopez, Kristine Jensen
Sundahl, Lone
van Hout, Angeliek
Hollebrandse, Bart
Overweg, Jessica
Faber, Myrthe
van Koert, Margreet
Smith, Nafsika
Vija, Maigi
Zupping, Sirli
Kunnari, Sari
Morisseau, Tiffany
Rusieshvili, Manana
Yatsushiro, Kazuko
Fengler, Anja
Varlokosta, Spyridoula
Konstantzou, Katerina
Farby, Shira
Guasti, Maria Teresa
Vernice, Mirta
Okabe, Reiko
Isobe, Miwa
Crosthwaite, Peter
Hong, Yoonjee
Balciuniene, Ingrida
Nizar, Yanti Marina Ahmad
Grech, Helen
Gatt, Daniela
Cheong, Win Nee
Asbjornsen, Arve
Torkildsen, Janne von Koss
Haman, Ewa
Miekisz, Aneta
Gagarina, Natalia
Puzanova, Julia
Andelkovic, Darinka
Savic, Maja
Josic, Smiljana
Slancova, Daniela
Kapalkova, Svetlana
Barberan, Tania
Özge, Duygu
Hassan, Saima
Chan, Cecilia Yuet Hung
Okubo, Tomoya
van der Lely, Heather
Sauerland, Uli
Noveck, Ira
Learners of most languages are faced with the task of acquiring words to talk about number and quantity. Much is known about the order of acquisition of number words as well as the cognitive and perceptual systems and cultural practices that shape it. Substantially less is known about the acquisition of quantifiers. Here, we consider the extent to which systems and practices that support number word acquisition can be applied to quantifier acquisition and conclude that the two domains are largely distinct in this respect. Consequently, we hypothesize that the acquisition of quantifiers is constrained by a set of factors related to each quantifier's specific meaning. We investigate competence with the expressions for "all," "none," "some," "some. not," and "most" in 31 languages, representing 11 language types, by testing 768 5-y-old children and 536 adults. We found a cross-linguistically similar order of acquisition of quantifiers, explicable in terms of four factors relating to their meaning and use. In addition, exploratory analyses reveal that language-and learner-specific factors, such as negative concord and gender, are significant predictors of variation.


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Citation Formats
N. Katsos et al., “Cross-linguistic patterns in the acquisition of quantifiers,” PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, pp. 9244–9249, 2016, Accessed: 00, 2020. [Online]. Available: