Grammatical determinants of ambiguous pronoun resolution
ABSTRACT Crawley et al. (1990) argue for the primacy of a subject assignment strategy for pronoun assignment during reading, and against the notion of parallel function (Sheldon, 1974). However, most of their items deviated from parallel structure, and none included subject pronouns. In four experiments with subject and nonsubject pronouns, strong parallel function effects emerge when a potential antecedent has the same syntactic role as the pronoun and when the two clauses have the same attachment site and constituent structure. Attachment nonparallelism causes the greatest ambiguity, while the other types lead to more subject assignment overall, although there is always an overlaid parallel function effect. These observations support a model of pronoun assignment according to which potential antecedents are checked for morphological, syntactic and semantic feature matches with the pronoun, and priming/reactivation of syntactic structure across clauses facilitates parallel assignment.
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ABSTRACT: We describe two pronoun interpretation experiments in which a Cohere nce Hypothesis is tested against preference-based accounts. The Coherence Hypothesis holds that apparent preferences in antecedent selection are actually byproducts of the infere ncing processes used to establish different types of coherence. In Experiment 1 we s how that preferences can be systematically disrupted through the manipulation of coherence and t hat when the relevant factors are balanced, preferences disappear. In Experiment 2 we s how that the coherence effect is not disrupted by voice alternations (active/passiv e), providing evidence for a strong semantic model of coherence-driven interpretation. We speculate on the adequacy of this strong semantic model and propose additional online experiments to exa mine the interaction between propositional content and information structure influence s on pronoun interpretation.01/2006;
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ABSTRACT: There are two main approaches to the problem of donkey anaphora (e.g. If John owns a donkey, he beats it). Proponents of dynamic approaches take the pronoun to be a logical variable, but they revise the semantics of quantifiers so as to allow them to bind variables that are not within their syntactic scope. Older dynamic approaches took this measure to apply solely to existential quantifiers; recent dynamic approaches have extended it to all quantifiers. By contrast, proponents of E-type analyses take the pronoun to have the semantics of a definite description (with it ≈ the donkey, or the donkey that John owns). While competing accounts make very different claims about the patterns of coindexation that are found in the syntax, these are not morphologically realized in spoken languages. But they are in sign language, namely through locus assignment and pointing. We make two main claims on the basis of ASL and LSF data. First, sign language data favor dynamic over E-type theories: in those cases in which the two approaches make conflicting predictions about possible patterns of coindexation, dynamic analyses are at an advantage. Second, among dynamic theories, sign language data favor recent ones because the very same formal mechanism is used irrespective of the indefinite or non-indefinite nature of the antecedent. Going beyond this debate, we argue that dynamic theories should allow pronouns to be bound across negative expressions, as long as the pronoun is presupposed to have a non-empty denotation. Finally, an appendix displays and explains subtle differences between overt sign language pronouns and all other pronouns in examples involving ‘disjunctive antecedents’, and suggests that counterparts of sign language loci might be found in spoken language.Linguistics and Philosophy 01/2011; 34(4). · 0.36 Impact Factor