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The Processing and Acquisition of Reference$
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Edward A. Gibson and Neal J. Pearlmutter

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262015127

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262015127.001.0001

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Processing or Pragmatics? Explaining the Coreference Delay

Processing or Pragmatics? Explaining the Coreference Delay

(p.157) 7 Processing or Pragmatics? Explaining the Coreference Delay
The Processing and Acquisition of Reference

Tanya Reinhart

The MIT Press

In 1990, Y.-C. Chien and Kenneth Wexler (1990) proposed that acquisition delays in children occur with coreference rather than the binding theory in general, in agreement with the notion that variable binding and coreference are governed by different types of linguistic conditions. A 1983 study suggested that the condition on coreference belongs to pragmatics and involves an inference based on knowledge of grammar, meaning, and appropriateness to context. This chapter explores the nature of coreference in human language and the role of processing in language acquisition by using data from a research program that focuses on adult acceptability judgments on possible sentences as well as child language acquisition. It considers intrasentential pronominal anaphora and comments on Rosalind Thornton and Kenneth Wexler’s arguments against the processing account, especially with regards condition C. It also discusses the pragmatic and the processing accounts of delay in the acquisition of coreference in the context of learnability and chance performance.

Keywords:   children, coreference, variable binding, pragmatics, processing, language acquisition, anaphora, condition C, learnability, chance performance

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