Presentation on theme: "Clausal Backgrounding & Pronominal Reference – A Functionalist"— Presentation transcript:
1 Clausal Backgrounding & Pronominal Reference – A Functionalist Approach to C-commandCatherine L. Harris & Elizabeth A. Bates
2 Outline of Lecture Functionalists vs. Generativists The Pronominal DebateExperiment 1 – Coreference RatesExperiment 2 – Syntactic ProminenceExperiment 3 – Extra-sentential ReferentsExperiment 4 – Additional FactorsPossible CriticismFunctionalist Claim
3 Functionalists vs. Generativists Autonomy of the grammar and syntaxInnateness and Universal GrammarMethodologyGenerativists - Structural rulesFunctionalists - Forms serve communicative functions
4 Example – Research about Pronouns Generativists study the distribution of pronouns and their co-reference possibilities in terms of the structure of the syntactical tree.Functionalists will try and explain how the use of pronouns facilitates access to the topic of the discourse and hence, speed the communication process.
5 Generativist approach for the distribution of pronouns C-command: a node a c-commands a node b iff:a does not dominate b and vice versaThe first branching node dominating a, dominates bIf a c-commands b then it is not lower in the tree!
7 Generativist approach for the distribution of pronouns 1. He finished breakfast before John went to school (he ≠ John)2. After he finished breakfast, John went to school (he = John)3. She stood up before Susan began to sing (She ≠ Susan)4. Before she began to sing, Susan stood up (She = Susan)5. He ate the cake when the smurf was in the box (he ≠ the smurf)6. When he was in the box, the smurf ate the cake (he = the smurf)Question: Why in some cases the pronoun can precede it’s co-referent and in other cases it may not?
8 UG RULE Generativist approach for the distribution of pronouns Answer: The syntactical structure is the reason!Rule: A pronoun cannot C-command the NP that it refers toSSUG RULEPPSVPNPHePBeforeSheleftNPJohnVcriedPPBeforeJohnleftVPcried
9 Functionalist approach for the distribution of pronouns Pronouns signal reference to a highly accessible discourse entity.Full nouns signal reference to a distant or new discourse entity.Example: “He finished breakfast before John went to school”
10 Backgrounding Pronouns refer ahead under backgrounding Backgrounding signals anticipation to the following main clause.Syntactic subordination is the most common strategy for backgrounding.backgrounding is used to signal that the listener must dedicate more resources for the processing of the main clause.Pronouns refer ahead under backgrounding
11 Examplesa. Before they were gunned down, the Gibraltar Three were planning to blow up a bandb. Before The Gibraltar Three were gunned down, they were planning to blow up a banda. While he hadn’t read the Gifford article, Associate Dean of Yale College Martin Griffin said that the best administrators are scholars.b. While Associate Dean of Yale College Martin Griffin hadn’t read the Gifford article, he said that the best administrators are scholars.Functionalist generalization : Coreference is derived from communicative constraints
12 Generativists prediction – UNGRAMMATICAL Who is right?Are there any backgrounding mechanisms that do not includesubordination?She was sitting with 8000 people in Madison square Garden, when Phyllis Rothestein…2. He had already shot himself before John quite knew what he was doing.3. He would have been like a son to us, if my wife and I could have kept Jim away from the influence of his family4. He was just a little boy when I Knew JohnGenerativists prediction – UNGRAMMATICALAlternative backgrounding mechanism: ASPECT
13 Experiment 1 – Coreference Rates Comparing raters’ coreference for the following types of sentences:
21 Discussion Coreference is higher for subordinate clauses When subordination is present aspect bears little effectAspect improved coreference in main clausesThe new name enables readers to not co-refer, but the repeated name provokes a conflict – Aspect permits resolving of the conflict through coreference.
22 Experiment 4 – Additional Factors 20% permitted co-reference in a main, past simple clause for a new name!Hypothesis: semantics of ‘when’ clauses enhances backgrounding effects
23 Experiment 4 – Additional Factors ‘when’ vs. ‘after’Mental state verbs vs. communication verbs
25 Discussion ‘After’ yielded less co-reference than ‘when’ Mental-state verb influenced in ‘when’ past simple passages, not in progressive – maybe aspect is a stronger hintConclusion: many factors influence co-reference
26 General DiscussionHypothesis: Backgrounding is what allows a pronoun to precede it’s referent and not syntactic subordinationExperiments showed that aspect can allow co-reference but is a weaker cue than subordination.Aspect is used in isolation & when a repeated name occursMultiple factors influence co-reference
27 Possible CriticismC-command has many more effects other than co-reference (anaphor pronouns)‘when clauses’ are not subordinate, but coordinated – the two parts are equal in prominence
28 Functionalist ClaimEquality of prominence is what triggers the backgrounding readingFormalists make interpretation dictate the structure instead of vice versaExplanations for linguistic form should be sought in the informational structure being served by these forms
29 Language Comrehenders Mentally represent the Shapes of Objects Rolf A. Zwaan, Robert A. Stanfield,& Richard H. Yaxley
30 He hammered the nail into the wall He hammered the nail into the floorThe ranger saw the eagle in the skyThe ranger saw the eagle in the nest