Delayed Application of Binding Condition C During Cataphoric Pronoun Resolution

  • Clare PattersonEmail author
  • Claudia Felser


Previous research has shown that during cataphoric pronoun resolution, the predictive search for an antecedent is restricted by a structure-sensitive constraint known as ‘Condition C’, such that an antecedent is only considered when the constraint does not apply. Evidence has mainly come from self-paced reading (SPR), a method which may not be able to pick up on short-lived effects over the timecourse of processing. This study investigates whether or not the active search mechanism is constrained by Condition C at all points in time during cataphoric processing. We carried out one eye-tracking during reading and a parallel SPR experiment, accompanied by offline coreference judgment tasks. Although offline judgments about coreference were constrained by Condition C, the eye-tracking experiment revealed temporary consideration of antecedents that should be ruled out by Condition C. The SPR experiment using exactly the same materials indicated, conversely, that only structurally appropriate antecedents were considered. Taken together, our results suggest that the application of Condition C may be delayed during naturalistic reading.


Sentence processing Cataphora Pronouns Binding German Eye-movement monitoring Self-paced reading 



The authors wish to thank the following people for their help with this project: Daniela Mertzen for help with materials creation; Daniela Mertzen, Janna Drummer, Thea Villinger and Carrie Toptan for experiment preparation and data collection; Janna Drummer for fruitful discussions and useful insights.


This research was supported by an Alexander-von-Humboldt professorship awarded to Harald Clahsen (Potsdam Research Institute for Multilingualism) and by the German Science Foundation (DFG) through Grant No. FE 1138/1-1 awarded to Claudia Felser.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflicts of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Potsdam Research Institute for MultilingualismUniversity of PotsdamPotsdamGermany
  2. 2.Institut für deutsche Sprache und Literatur IUniversität zu KölnCologneGermany

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