Can Language Acquisition Give Children a Point of View?
This chapter presents the most recent version of the linguistic determination theory, which posits that false-belief understanding crucially depends on mastery of the syntax of complementation. However, this syntactic development does not apply to all object complements, that is, it does not hold for desire (want + infinitive) in English. Nor does it apply to all tensed object complements (that + finite verb). The chapter states that there is a Point-of-View (POV) marker on the complement clause, for belief and communication verbs, that is specified by the verb itself. It argues that desire verbs (for example, want) and belief verbs (for example, think) develop along radically different trajectories. The chapter looks more closely at the path of linguistic development for complements. This serves two purposes: it details the mechanism and reveals why the problem is a deep and central one in language acquisition. This exposition aims to make clear why it is not so easy to separate syntax from semantics and why linguists find it necessary to invoke underlying structures instead of surface structures.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.