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Information StructureTheoretical, Typological, and Experimental Perspectives$
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Malte Zimmermann and Caroline Féry

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199570959

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199570959.001.0001

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Investigating effects of structural and information‐structural factors on pronoun resolution *

Investigating effects of structural and information‐structural factors on pronoun resolution *

Chapter:
(p.332) 14 Investigating effects of structural and information‐structural factors on pronoun resolution*
Source:
Information Structure
Author(s):

Elsi Kaiser

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199570959.003.0014

In chapter 14 ‘Investigating effects of structural and information‐structural factors on pronoun resolution’, Elsi Kaiser presents a sentence‐completion experiment that explores two questions related to reference resolution: (i) How do information‐structural factors and syntactic factors interact to guide reference resolution? (ii) Is the interpretation of a sentence‐initial pronoun connected to the presence/absence of other referential forms later in the same sentence? The results indicate that a subject‐position pronoun prefers the subject of the preceding sentence, regardless of whether the subject is discourse‐old and pronominalized or discourse‐new and contrastively focused. Moreover, a pronoun referring to the preceding subject is more likely to be followed by a subsequent mention of the preceding object than a pronoun referring to the preceding object is to be followed by a mention of the preceding subject. This suggests that if a less‐salient referent (object) is upgraded by being interpreted as the antecedent of a subject‐position pronoun, subsequent mention of the higher‐salience referent (subject) in the same clause is avoided. Put together, the results suggest that subjecthood is important both when looking back at preceding discourse and when looking forward to subsequent discourse.

Keywords:   pronouns, reference resolution, psycholinguistics, topic, focus, clefts

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