Acquisition of Korean Disjunction under Negation

Lee, On-Soon
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University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Department of Linguistics
This study investigates Korean-speaking children’s and Korean child heritage learners’ comprehension of sentences containing a disjunction operator with a negated verb. Two experiments were conducted. The first shows that children robustly reject the disjunctive interpretation (81.6%) but accept the conjunctive interpretation (78.9%). Surprisingly, Korean adults marginally accept the disjunctive interpretation (34.2%). This raises the possibility that Korean -(i)na behaves differently from disjunction in languages like English or Japanese. Experiment 2 examines this possibility in four groups. The stories used as experimental materials were modified by reducing the number of characters so as to reduce demands on working memory. The structure of target sentences was also revised to avoid a highly biased interpretation (conjunctive interpretation). The results of Experiment 2 show that Korean-speaking adults and children and Korean child heritage learners accept target sentences around 33% of the time in the context favoring the disjunctive interpretation, whereas only Korean adult heritage learners reject target sentences 100% of the time. The findings indicate that the Korean disjunction -(i)na ‘or’ under negation behaves differently than English or or Japanese ka.
Lee, On-Soon. 2010. Acquisition of Korean Disjunction under Negation. University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Working Papers in Linguistics 41(7).
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