Quantifier comprehension is linked to linguistic rather than to numerical skills. Evidence from children with down syndrome and williams syndrome

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Abstract

Comprehending natural language quantifiers (like many, all, or some) involves linguistic and numerical abilities. However, the extent to which both factors play a role is controversial. In order to determine the specific contributions of linguistic and number skills in quantifier comprehension, we examined two groups of participants that differ in their language abilities while their number skills appear to be similar: Participants with Down syndrome (DS) and participants with Williams syndrome (WS). Compared to rather poor linguistic skills of individuals with DS, individuals with WS display relatively advanced language abilities. Participants with WS also outperformed participants with DS in a quantifier comprehension task while number knowledge did not differ between the two groups. When compared to typically developing (TD) children of the same mental age, participants with WS displayed similar levels regarding quantifier abilities, but participants with DS performed worse than the control group. Language abilities but not number skills also significantly predicted quantifier knowledge in a linear regression analysis, stressing the importance of linguistic abilities for quantifier comprehension. In addition to determining the skills that are relevant for comprehending quantifiers, our findings provide the first demonstration of how quantifiers are acquired by individuals with DS and WS, an issue not investigated so far.

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Dolscheid, S., & Penke, M. (2018). Quantifier comprehension is linked to linguistic rather than to numerical skills. Evidence from children with down syndrome and williams syndrome. PLoS ONE, 13(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0199743

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