The authors want to thank Nausicaa Pouscoulous for her advice as well as the ESF's EURO-XPRAG Research Networking Programme, which supported the exchange of ideas. We also want to thank Isabell Lehn, Juliane Dauksch, Susann Schildhauer, and Sophie Sumburane for their help in the studies, the child lab's research assistants for their general support, and Manuela Missana and Franziska Kroebel for help with the coding.
3-Year-Old Children Make Relevance Inferences in Indirect Verbal Communication
Article first published online: 28 MAR 2013
© 2013 The Authors. Child Development © 2013 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.
Volume 84, Issue 6, pages 2079–2093, November/December 2013
How to Cite
Schulze, C., Grassmann, S. and Tomasello, M. (2013), 3-Year-Old Children Make Relevance Inferences in Indirect Verbal Communication. Child Development, 84: 2079–2093. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12093
- Issue published online: 11 NOV 2013
- Article first published online: 28 MAR 2013
Three studies investigated 3-year-old children's ability to determine a speaker's communicative intent when the speaker's overt utterance related to that intent only indirectly. Studies 1 and 2 examined children's comprehension of indirectly stated requests (e.g., “I find Xs good” can imply, in context, a request for X; N = 32). Study 3 investigated 3- and 4-year-old children's and adults' (N = 52) comprehension of the implications of a speaker responding to an offer by mentioning an action's fulfilled or unfulfilled precondition (e.g., responding to an offer of cereal by stating that we have no milk implies rejection of the cereal). In all studies, 3-year-old children were able to make the relevance inference necessary to integrate utterances meaningfully into the ongoing context.