Binding and Coreference: Views from Child Language

Part of the Studies in Theoretical Psycholinguistics book series (SITP, volume 41)


The chapter reviews work on a central topic in acquisition from the perspective of generative grammar: the Binding principles that dictate how pronouns and reflexives behave. The core issue is the “Pronoun Interpretation Problem (PIP)”: do children actually know Principle B of binding and their knowledge is masked in performance, or is there a real problem with pronoun interpretation that may require integrating syntax and pragmatics? Hamann provides a summary of recent theoretical and empirical work on binding that makes it clear that there is more involved in interpretation of pronouns than the simple binding principles. The cross –linguistic asymmetries are reviewed, since pronominal clitics in Romance languages are found to be better understood than non-clitic pronouns, but not in the case of clitic climbing (ECM) environments. Yet recent results on successful performance of children acquiring German belie any simple account of the PIP. Various theorists have proposed coreference rules that require consideration of pragmatics in one way or another, and the interaction of the principles with discourse antecedents. Others stress the possibility of an underspecification of the features of the pronoun in acquisition. Recent work considering the roles of referentiality and topic-hood is explored.


Simple Sentence Scalar Implicature Romance Language Romance Child Open Proposition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fakultät III, Institut für Fremdsprachenphilologien, Seminar für Anglistik/AmerikanistikCarl von Ossietzky Universität OldenburgOldenburgGermany

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