Anna Papafragou (Univ. of Delaware)
“Information sources in language and thought”
The ability to reason about the evidential bases of information is crucial for acquiring knowledge and updating beliefs on the basis of new or more reliable evidence. We know that the ability to reason about evidence develops slowly in children and monitoring the sources of one’s beliefs often leads to errors in adults. We also know that there is considerable cross-linguistic variation in encoding of information source. In this talk, I ask whether the grammaticalization of distinctions between different information sources in language might lead to earlier acquisition of source-monitoring abilities in children and to more accurate source-monitoring performance in adults. In a series of studies with diverse language populations, I show that the acquisition of evidential language does not act as a pace setter for evidential cognition. I further show that evidentiality in language is independent of source-monitoring performance in adults. Together, these studies reveal commonalities in reasoning about sources of information across members of different linguistic communities.