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More on Pronoun Interpretation in Children. Why all the fuss about pronouns? Children (age < 6) appear to allow non-adultlike interpretations for: – Big.

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Presentation on theme: "More on Pronoun Interpretation in Children. Why all the fuss about pronouns? Children (age < 6) appear to allow non-adultlike interpretations for: – Big."— Presentation transcript:

1 More on Pronoun Interpretation in Children

2 Why all the fuss about pronouns? Children (age < 6) appear to allow non-adultlike interpretations for: – Big Bird washed him. At least 30 papers on the ‘Delay of Principle B Effect’ (DPBE), and still counting … What needs to be learned? Some universals, some language particular. Also gets us into: i. Children’s pragmatic competence ii. Children’s memory retrieval processes

3 Mama Bear i touched her i. Forwards Anaphora: Principle B Every bear i touched her i. (Chien & Wexler, 1990) Failure Success

4 Mama Bear i touched her i. Forwards Anaphora: Principle B (Chien & Wexler 1990) From sample of 30 studies… Jakubowicz % Kaufman % Lombardi & Sarma % Grimshaw & Rosen % Chien & Wexler % McKee % McDaniel & Maxfield % Avrutin & Wexler 1994 (Rus.)52% Hestvik & Philip 1996 (Norw.)10% Matsuoka % Savarese % Thornton & Wexler % Varlokosta 2001 (Greek)13% Kiguchi & Thornton % etc. From sample of 30 studies… Jakubowicz % Kaufman % Lombardi & Sarma % Grimshaw & Rosen % Chien & Wexler % McKee % McDaniel & Maxfield % Avrutin & Wexler 1994 (Rus.)52% Hestvik & Philip 1996 (Norw.)10% Matsuoka % Savarese % Thornton & Wexler % Varlokosta 2001 (Greek)13% Kiguchi & Thornton % etc.

5 Noam Chomsky Tanya Reinhart

6 *He is wearing John’s coat. *He thinks that Sue is wearing John’s coat. Principle C: a pronoun cannot c-command its antecedent “That must be John. He’s wearing John’s coat. John thinks that Bill hates him. Principle B: a pronoun cannot be bound by an antecedent in the same clause

7 The scope of binding constraints Bill loves his mother-in-law. Bill loves his mother-in-law, and Tom does too. Every linguist loves his mother-in-law, and every philosopher does too. No linguist loves his mother-in-law, and no philosopher does either. The people who work for him love Bill. The people who work for him love every department chair. The people who work for him love no department chair. The people who work for Bill love him, and the people who work for Tom do too.

8 The scope of binding constraints Tanya Reinhart (1983 et seq.): binding constraints apply to bound variable interpretations only I know what Mary, Sue, and Bill have in common. Mary likes him, Sue likes him, and Bill likes him too. Every student washed him.  claim: violates Principle B John washed him.  claim: doesn’t violate Principle B violates additional pragmatic constr.

9 Mama Bear i touched her i. Forwards Anaphora: Principle B Every bear i touched her i. (Chien & Wexler, 1990) Failure Success

10 TVJT ≠ Acceptability Judgment When a child says “no” to a sentence that is true on an anaphoric interpretation the child is not a ‘little linguist’ who is judging the acceptability of that interpretation. The child is judging the truth of an alternative, deictic interpretation So how do we get from those judgments to conclusions about the child’s grammatical knowledge?

11 Thornton & Wexler % 8%

12 Paul Elbourne, Queen Margaret, U. London Elbourne 2005, Linguistic Inquiry Main concerns: (i) Are results biased by prominence of antecedents? (ii) Perhaps children don’t like bound variable anaphora

13 Grumpy painted him. Every dwarf painted him. G. painted himself G. painted somebody else Every d. painted himself Every d. painted somebody else Availability Are the referents sufficiently prominent? Disputability Are the propositions under consideration?

14 The Painting Story

15 These are dwarves Happy DopeyGrumpy

16 These are smurfs Papa Smurf Tennis SmurfHiking Smurf

17 Snow White is having a party! And she’s having a painting contest. I’m going to be the judge!

18 I have my blue paint I have my green paint I have my black paint

19 I have my red paint

20 What can I do? I don’t have any paint Maybe others will share!

21 Happy - can you paint me? Well … if I have some extra paint

22 Thanks! I do have some extra… There you go!

23 But I think I need more paint!

24 Dopey! Can you paint me? Let me get painted first…

25 Thanks! OK, there you go …

26 I’m so grumpy. I don’t even want to go to the party… Do you think I should get painted?

27 OK … OK … I’ll do it.

28 By the way … I really want to impress Snow White

29 Grumpy! Can you paint me? I used up all my paint. I don’t have any more. Sorry!

30 What can I do!

31 I have some paint.

32 I can paint you! Thanks!

33 Now we are all painted!

34 Wow, this was a story about painting. Hiking Smurf didn’t have any paint, and Grumpy almost didn’t go to the party. I think Grumpy painted him. Anaphoric interpretation: true Deictic interpretation: false

35 Wow, this was a story about painting. Hiking Smurf didn’t have any paint, and all the dwarves looked great. I think every dwarf painted him. Anaphoric interpretation: true Deictic interpretation: false

36 AnaphoricDeictic

37 I think Grumpy painted him. 14% ‘yes’ I think every dwarf painted him. 11% ‘yes’ Anaphoric interpretation: true Deictic interpretation: false I think Grumpy painted his body. 73% ‘yes’ I think every dwarf painted his body. 80% ‘yes’

38 56% 16%


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