Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 497–506 | Cite as

Co-referential Processing of Pronouns and Repeated Names in Italian

  • Jefferson de Carvalho MaiaEmail author
  • Mirta Vernice
  • Carlos Gelormini-Lezama
  • Maria Luiza Cunha Lima
  • Amit Almor


In this study, we investigate whether co-referential processing across sentence boundaries is driven by universal properties of the general architecture of memory systems and whether cross-linguistic differences concerning the number of anaphoric forms available in a language’s referential inventory can impact the process of inter-sentential co-reference resolution. As a window into these questions, we test whether the repeated-name penalty (RNP) and the overt-pronoun penalty (OPP)—comprehension delays associated with repeated names and overt pronouns, respectively, in comparison to more reduced anaphoric forms in reference to salient antecedents—occur in Italian, examining the extent to which Italian resembles other null-subject languages, with focus on Spanish. Our self-paced reading experiment with factors Antecedent (Subject, Object) and Anaphor (Null Pronoun, Overt Pronoun, Repeated Name) found that Italian exhibits both an OPP and a (weaker) RNP, extending previous research that showed these effects in Spanish and strengthening the claim that co-reference resolution might be subject to universal principles.


Coreferential processing Repeated names Repeated-name penalty Pronouns Overt-pronoun penalty Italian 



This study was partially funded by NIH (Grant No. R21AG030445) and NSF (Grant No. BCS0822617).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Amit Almor has received research grants from NIH and NSF.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Linguistics ProgramUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Università degli Studi di Milano-BicoccaMilanItaly
  3. 3.Universidad de San AndrésBuenos AiresArgentina
  4. 4.Universidade Federal de Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil
  5. 5.Psychology DepartmentUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  6. 6.Institute for Mind and BrainColumbiaUSA

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