UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 12 (2000)
Age differences in the acquisition of quantifiers: Evidence from English and Korean
This paper reports experimental finding which shows age differences in the acquisition of universal quantifiers. From comparable experiments of English and Korean 4 to 7 year-old children, it was found that in both groups younger children at the ages of 4 and 5 performed significantly better than the older children at the ages of 6 and 7. This finding gives rise to the classic pattern of a U-shaped developmental curve. On the view that some aspects of pragmatics are mastered late in acquisition, later than syntactic knowledge, it is assumed that the high rate of spreading errors by older children can be attributed to the interference of pragmatic factors, rather than to lack of grammatical knowledge. It is therefore argued that the errors made by younger children and the errors made by older children have to derive from different sources: the former are attributable to a deficiency of relevant grammatical knowledge, whereas the latter are due to the interference of pragmatic factors, even though the relevant grammatical knowledge is available.