Semantics in Language Acquisition
Many theorists take language – vocabulary, mental verbs, syntax, counterfactuals, discourse – to be a significant help in the development of explicit Theory of Mind. Does conversation, with all its point-of-view indicators, betray another’s perspective? By comparing how different linguistic markers behave across clausal environments, I demonstrate that they fall into distinct classes, only one of which – tense – patterns with the truth of the clause in terms of perspective. Sentences with embedded finite complements thus have a special role in representing the truth or falsity of others’ beliefs. Children who master embedded sentential complements can then more readily reason about others’ false beliefs.
Perspective, Point-of-View, Deixis, Complements, Theory of Mind, Direct speech, Syntax, Finiteness
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de Villiers, Jill, "Perspectives on Truth: The Case of Language and False Belief Reasoning" (2018). Philosophy: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.