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The effects of bilingualism, executive functioning, and numeracy on children’s semantic-pragmatic acquisition of logical quantifiers and operators

Alatawi, Haifa Eid (2016) The effects of bilingualism, executive functioning, and numeracy on children’s semantic-pragmatic acquisition of logical quantifiers and operators. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This research investigates children’s semantic and pragmatic competence using the logical quantifiers ‘most’ and ‘some’, and the operators ‘or’ and ‘and’ in English and Arabic. It includes two main studies, with a sample of 30 Arabic-bidialectal, 26 English-monolingual, and 30 Arabic-and-English-bilingual pre-schoolers (mean age 5;6). Study 1 explored the relationship between children’s semantic comprehension of quantifiers and their numeracy skills, and asked two questions: a) do children comprehend quantifiers in semantically appropriate ways, and b) to what extent does acquisition of numerical system affect acquisition of quantifiers? The study applied two semantic tasks (perception v. production) and four numerical tasks (how-many, give-a-number, non-verbal ordinal, and estimating-magnitude-numerically). Most children showed very good numeracy skills; all performed better on the production than on the perception task, and Arabic children had significantly lower quantifier comprehension than the other groups. Ability on the give-a-number task (measuring ability to produce sets representing numerical values) had a significant effect on comprehension of ‘some’. Study 2 explored the relationship between pragmatic competence and bilingualism, with a focus on scalar implicature. It asked whether any superior pragmatic competence in bilinguals is due to a cognitive advantage over monolinguals. It applied two ternary-response judgment tasks to assess pragmatic ability in two conditions (enriched context v. no context), and two cognitive tasks: an inhibitory control task and a short-term memory task. A bilingual advantage was found only on pragmatic, not cognitive, tasks; however, cognitive tasks had strong effects on pragmatic performance. These results are discussed vis-à-vis theories of implicature processing. The main contributions of this research are to a) theoretically establish how quantifiers and numbers are associated by linking theories of abstract and number word representations and then testing this relation empirically, b) show that the bilingual advantage emerges in both English and Arabic, and c) provide evidence that implicature processing is cognitively effortful.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Pragmatic Competence, Bilingualism, Executive Functioning, Implicature Processing, Acquisition of Logical Quantifiers and Operators, Acquisition of Approximate and Exact Numerical System
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Languages Cultures and Societies (Leeds) > Linguistics & Phonetics (Leeds)
Depositing User: H. E. Alatawi
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2017 12:34
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2017 12:34
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/16578

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