|Title:||Children's optimal interpretations of indefinite subjects and objects|
|Authors:||Irene KrÃ¤mer, Helen de Hoop|
We find a general, language-independent pattern in child language acquisition in which there is a clear difference between subject and object noun phrases. On the one hand, indefinite objects tend to be interpreted non-referentially, independently of word order and across experiments and languages. On the other hand, indefinite subjects tend to be interpreted referentially in most contexts, even in contexts where adults would favour a non-referential reading. In this article we offer an explanation for this pattern within the framework of bidirectional Optimality Theory. This explanation will focus on clarifying in what sense children's interpretations deviate from the adult interpretations, and clarifying the nature of the linguistic knowledge that the 4-year old child will need to acquire in order to become a competent, adult-like speaker and hearer of her language.