Experimental investigations of principle C at the syntax-pragmatics interface

Vera Gor
2020
Pronouns appear frequently in natural language, thus ensuring that speakers are faced with the task of resolving pronominal reference. Traditionally, syntactic structure is thought to place constraints on pronominal interpretation. But what other factors affect pronominal reference, and do these other factors interact with – and possibly override – structural constraints? In this dissertation, I appeal to backwards anaphora with Principle C effects as a case study, and experimentally
more » ... a range of factors affecting pronominal reference, even when the structural constraint in the form of Principle C predicts that coconstrual is barred. The findings demonstrate that variation in speakers' acceptability judgments is a result of an interaction between structural and extra-syntactic factors.Typically, when a pronoun c-commands a name, as in (1), coconstrual between the two is ruled out. This failure of coconstrual is traditionally referred to as the "Principle C effect" (Bruening 2014, Chomsky 1981, Johnson 2012, Rizzi 2004, Safir 1999, Sportiche 1998). Yet, some speakers occasionally allow for structurally marked coconstruals, suggesting that pragmatics and discourse pressures may be weighed on par with syntactic constraints on interpretation, cf. (1) and (2)-(3).(1) *Hei said that Johni would win. (Chomsky 1981)(2) Shei was out of spirits when I last talked to Maryi. (Bolinger 1977)(3) The teacher warned himi that in order to succeed[,] Walteri was going to have to work a lot harder from now on. (McCray 1980)While a few theoretical proposals have been presented to account for the variability in the data (Chien and Wexler 1990, Grodzinsky and Reinhart 1993, Heim 1982, Higginbotham 1985, Reinhart 1983, Safir 2004), they draw primarily on intuitive judgments and fail to explicitly identify the specific conditions that give rise to varying acceptability. To fill this gap, I employ offline measures (forced choice task and judgment tasks) and systematically manipulate a range of independent variables to demonstra [...]
doi:10.7282/t3-hp5h-zk10 fatcat:oirqeo66vfeirj27sis2f5a2mu