Principle B and Phonologically Reduced Pronouns in Child English Jeremy Hartman Yasutada Sudo Ken Wexler
Outline Background: Delay of Principle B – Referential vs. Quantificational antecedents – Full vs. Clitic Pronouns New study and results Discussion and implications
Principle B Principle B: Pronouns cannot be bound (= co- indexed with and c-commanded) by a local antecedent. Responsible for ruling out sentences like: (1)Bill i is washing him i. Do kids have knowledge of this principle?
Background: Delay of Principle B Many studies have found that young children allow a co-referent interpretation: (1)Bill i is washing him i. Adults: reject Kids (~ 3;0 – 6;0): often accept!
So far… Basic Delay of Principle B Effect ☐ Quantificational antecedents ☐ Clitic pronoun effect ☐ New study and results ☐ Discussion and implications
Referential vs. Quantificational Antecedents “John washed him” vs. “Every boy washed him”
Two Routes to Co-reference Reinhart (1983): co-reference could in principle be produced in 2 different ways: Variable-binding under co-indexation: (a) John j washed him j. ‘Accidental co-reference’: (b) John j washed him k. [k John]
Two Routes to Co-reference Variable-binding: (a)John j washed him j. [ill-formed for children and adults] Accidental co-reference: (b)John j washed him k. [disallowed by adults] [allowed by children!] Chien and Wexler: in the adult grammar, accidental co- reference is ruled out by an independent principle: “Principle P”: No co-reference without co-indexation!
No “accidental co-reference” with quantificational antecedents Referential antecedent: John j washed him k. Accidental co-reference possible, if “him” refers to John. Quantificational antecedent: Every boy washed him k. Accidental co-reference impossible, since “him” cannot refer to “every boy”.
Predictions Children should allow non-adultlike anaphoric interpretation whenever accidental co-reference is available. With quantificational antecedents, accidental co- reference is unavailable. Crucial prediction: children should reject the anaphoric interpretation when the antecedent is quantificational.
Clitic pronoun effect With clitic pronouns children correctly reject co-reference. E.g., Italian (Io) l’amo (“I like him”) Baauw, Escobar, & Philip (1997): Spanish, 10% acceptance. Hamann, Kowalski & Philip (1997): French, 22% (3-4 y.o.); 0% acceptance (5 y.o.) McKee (1992): Italian 15% acceptance.
Accounting for the clitic effect Why should children give adult-like responses with clitic pronouns? Recall: kids give adult-like responses when accidental co-reference is unavailable (e.g., with quantificational antecedents.) We want to show that accidental co-reference is unavailable for clitic pronouns…
Accounting for the clitic effect Avrutin & Wexler (1992): Accidental co- reference is unavailable with clitic pronouns, because clitics are “referentially dependent” -- they can’t be deictic. E.g., Italian: # (Io) l’amo. (I like him)[pointing to a person]
Clitic pronouns in English? English has ‘m, a reduced form of him and them, that also displays referential dependence. a) ✓ John j knows that I like ‘m j b)Who do you like?# I like ‘m. [pointing to a person] In fact, ‘m has often been suggested as a clitic pronoun (Nevis et al. 1994, Spencer 1991)
Accounting for the clitic effect Children know this property of clitic pronouns: they must be co-indexed with a discourse antecedent. – Children know to use clitics in referentially dependent contexts (Schaeffer 2000) Accidental co-reference is impossible for clitic pronouns, since they are referentially dependent. The only route to the anaphoric interpretation would be via co-indexation with the antecedent –ruled out by Principle B.
Summary Children appear to violate Principle B whenever accidental co-reference is available. 2 cases where accidental co-reference is unavailable: – Quantificational antecedents – Clitic pronouns Kids give adult-like responses (i.e., reject co- reference) in both of these cases!
So far… Basic Delay of Principle B Effect Quantificational antecedents Clitic Pronoun effect ☐ New study, results, and discussion
Motivations for our study Can the clitic pronoun effect be demonstrated in English, using the reduced pronoun ‘m? Our experimental design took into account a recent methodological critique (Conroy et al. 2009) of previous studies. Conroy et al.’s claim: with a more sophisticated story, the DPBE disappears.
Conroy et al.: Results 16 subjects, 4;0 – 5;6 Children accepted the anaphoric interpretation in 11% (7/64) of referential trials and in 14% (9/64) of quantificational trials. No Delay of Principle B effect! (and no Quantificational Asymmetry)
Conroy et al.’s Conclusion: Delay of Principle B effect was a methodological artifact of previous studies. With improved stories: – Kids give adultlike performance not only with quantificational antecedents…. – But also with referential antecedents as well.
Experimental Design 2 conditions: full pronoun, reduced pronoun. Truth-value judgment task Experimenters act out story. Puppet (Cookie Monster) makes a statement about the story: “I think…” Child’s task is to reward or correct Cookie Monster based on accuracy of his statement.
Experimental Design Experimental materials: 4 stories, (near) replicas of Conroy et al.’s scripts Each subject sees each story twice: – once paired with a ‘full-pronoun’ test sentence (e.g., “I think… Cow washed him”) – once paired with a ‘reduced-pronoun’ test sentence (e.g., “I think… Cow washed‘m”)
Experimental Design Target items interspersed with an equal number of filler items. Filler items used names in place of pronouns (e.g., “I think… Cow washed Horse”) Filler items assigned dynamically, to balance the sequences of True and False sentences.
Experimental Design Children tested over two ~20-min sessions consisting of 8 stories each (4 target, 4 filler). In a given session, a subject heard either all full-pronoun or all reduced-pronoun items. Full and reduced conditions for each subject are tested at least 1 week apart. Subjects randomly assigned to hear either the full-pronoun condition or the reduced- pronoun condition in their first session.
Results Data from 18 subjects analyzed Ages 3;10 – 5;10, mean: ~4;11 Subjects not included in analysis if they got more than 2 filler items wrong – (Conroy et al.’s criterion)
Results The difference is statistically significant (Wilcoxson signed rank test: W=387.5, Z=3.65 p<0.001).
Discussion 47.2% acceptance of anaphoric interpretation for full pronouns. Cf. Chien and Wexler 1990 (51%), Thornton & Wexler 1999 (58%); McDaniel & Maxfield 1992 (41%), Boster 1991 (38%) 19.4% acceptance of anaphoric interpretation for reduced pronouns. Cf. Romance clitic figures of ~8-15%; Conroy et al’s figure of 11%.)
Discussion Novel results important in two ways: – Demonstration that the clitic pronoun effect extends to English reduced pronouns. – DPBE is a real effect, once we control for full vs. reduced pronouns. Question: could reduced pronouns have contributed to Conroy et al.’s (2009) adultlike results?
Reduced Pronouns in Conroy et al. We reviewed sample videos of Conroy et al., found that most items clearly use the reduced form of the pronoun him: (‘m). Given that children give more adult-like responses with clitic pronouns in other languages… … it’s possible that Conroy et al.’s result was caused in part by the reduced pronouns.
Comparison of present and past results Sophisticated story? Reduced pronouns? % acceptance of anaphoric interpr. Conroy et al. (2009)YES 11% Chien & Wexler (1990)NO 51% Current study (full condition)YESNO47.2% Verdict: Conroy et al.’s adult-like responses (i.e., low acceptance of anaphoric interpretation) might have been caused in large part by their use of reduced pronouns.
Summary Clitic pronoun effect demonstrated for English reduced pronouns. In full condition, kids exhibited DPBE even when using Conroy et al.’s methodology.
Support from ellipsis Two possible representations for the antecedent VP: John k λx.x loves his x mother… [variable binding] John k λx.x loves his k mother… [accidental co-reference] Two different interpretations for the elided VP: …and Bill does, too. [‘strict’] …and Bill does, too. [‘sloppy’]
Conroy et al.: Results 2 nd experiment confirmed kids allow bound interpretation when Pr. B is not an issue (“Grumpy/Every dwarf painted his costume”) Kids accept bound interpretation in 80% (51/64) of referential trials and 73% (47/64) of quantificational trials.
Conroy et al.: Results 3 rd experiment used a version of Thornton & Wexler’s (1999) old story, and replicated T&W’s result. – Kids accept anaphoric interpretation in 56% (36/64) of referential trials, but in only 16% (10/64) of quantificational trials. Note: Conroy et al. require kids to justify responses. If explanation of “no” answer does not “refer to the falsification event” they score as “yes”
Conroy et al.’s Experiment 3 Remaining question: Conroy et al.’s Expt. 3 – Why were they able to replicate the Thornton & Wexler result just by changing the stories? We don’t have recordings for Expt 3. We don’t know whether they used full or reduced pronouns, or a mix. Many adultlike (“no”) responses were scored as “yes” because kids failed to “refer to the falsification event” in their explanation.
Conroy et al’s Main Expt (1): Lead-ins contain deictic referent Referential item: OK, this was a story about painting. Hiking Smurf didn’t have any paint, and Grumpy almost didn’t go to the party. Let me see... I think... Grumpy painted him. Quantificational item: OK, this was a story about painting. Hiking Smurf didn’t have any paint, and all the dwarves looked great. Let me see... I think... Every dwarf painted him.
Conroy et al.’s Experiment 3: Lead-ins don’t contain deictic referent Puppet’s referential lead-in + item: – This was a story about dwarves and Hiking Smurf. Hiking Smurf painted him. Puppet’s quantificational lead-in + item: – This was a story about dwarves and Hiking Smurf. Every dwarf painted him.
Another example: Thornton & Wexler (1999) Bert and three reindeer friends have a snowball fight, and they all get covered in snow. When they go inside, Bert is shivering, so he asks the reindeer to brush the snow off him. Two of the reindeer (separately) refuse, saying they have too much snow to deal with, and they brush themselves. The third reindeer helps Bert a little bit, but then brushes the snow off of himself. Bert thanks the helpful reindeer for starting to brush him. He says he’s sorry he can’t reciprocate by helping brush the helpful reindeer; he needs to finish brushing all the snow off of himself because he’s still very cold. (Thornton and Wexler 1999:142) R1 R2 R3 B
Thornton & Wexler (1999): Results R1R2R3B Referential condition “I think Bert brushed him.” -Kids accept in 58% of trials Quantificational condition “I think every reindeer brushed him.” -Kids accept in 8% of trials
Competing explanations of the clitic pronoun effect McKee (1992): Clitic pronoun effect is due to the structural position of clitic pronouns (e.g., I like him vs. Italian Io l’amo) Avrutin & Wexler (1992): The effect is due to the referential dependence of clitic pronouns Our results support the second explanation, since English full and reduced pronouns are in the same structural position.
Conroy et al. (2009) Delay of Principle B effect, and Quantificational Asymmetry, are experimental artifacts of previous studies. Thornton & Wexler’s stories favored a non- adult-like response in the Referential Condition, but not in the Quantificational Condition. With improved stories, effect disappears.
Recall Thornton & Wexler’s story: R1 R2 R3 B Bert and three reindeer friends have a snowball fight, and they all get covered in snow. When they go inside, Bert is shivering, so he asks the reindeer to brush the snow off him. Two of the reindeer (separately) refuse, saying they have too much snow to deal with, and they brush themselves. The third reindeer helps Bert a little bit, but then brushes the snow off of himself. Bert thanks the helpful reindeer for starting to brush him. He says he’s sorry he can’t reciprocate by helping brush the helpful reindeer; he needs to finish brushing all the snow off of himself because he’s still very cold. (Thornton and Wexler 1999:142)
Conroy et al.’s (2009) Critique In the referential condition (“Bert brushed him”), the story did not make the deictic interpretation plausible enough. For kids to give an adultlike response to “Bert brushed him”, they need to interpret “him” as “the third reindeer”. Conroy et al.: kids may be taking Bert as the referent, because he’s the most salient. – Bert has a “clear individual identity” vs. – “3 relatively undifferentiated reindeer”
Conroy et al.’s (2009) Critique (Cont.) Maybe kids are simply taking the pronoun to refer to the most salient character in the story. In the referential condition, this produces the anaphoric (non-adult) interpretation. In the quantificational condition, it produces the adult interpretation.
Salience in Thornton & Wexler (1999) Referential item: Bert brushed him Bert. Produces non-adultlike (anaphoric) interpretation Quantificational item: Every reindeer brushed him Bert. Produces adultlike (deictic) interpretation
Conroy et al. (2009): new stories More sophisticated stories to ensure that the deictic interpretation is plausible in the referential condition. Each character has a clear individual identity Each question posed by the referential/quantificational items was under active consideration in the story.
Conroy et al. sample story Characters: Hiking Smurf, Tennis Smurf, Papa Smurf [collectively Smurfs] Grumpy, Dopey, Happy [collectively dwarves] Papa Smurf announces that Snow White is going to have a party, and that she is going to have a painting contest. Papa Smurf declares that he is going to be the judge. Each of the dwarves shows and discusses the color of paint that he is going to use to get painted, as does Tennis Smurf. However, Hiking Smurf does not have any paint, and he wonders whether one of the other characters will be willing to share. He first approaches Happy, who says that he would be glad to help out if any paint remains after he is painted. Fortunately, when Happy is finished, some paint remains, and so he paints Hiking Smurf. Hiking Smurf, however, is not yet satisfied, so he approaches Dopey with a similar request, which is similarly successful. Then Grumpy, who is in such a bad mood that he doesn’t even want to go to the party, declares that he doesn’t need to get painted. The other dwarves really want him to go, and Grumpy agrees to get painted, using all of his paint in the process. After Grumpy is painted, Hiking Smurf approaches him and asks for some paint. Grumpy politely apologizes that he would like to help but cannot, because he has used up all of his paint. Hiking Smurf realizes that his best remaining chance is to ask Tennis Smurf for some extra paint, and Tennis Smurf obliges when he is asked. Finally, everybody is ready for Snow White’s party.
Conroy et al. Items Referential item: OK, this was a story about painting. Hiking Smurf didn’t have any paint, and Grumpy almost didn’t go to the party. Let me see... I think... Grumpy painted him. Quantificational item: OK, this was a story about painting. Hiking Smurf didn’t have any paint, and all the dwarves looked great. Let me see... I think... Every dwarf painted him.