Antecedent accessibility and exceptional covariation: Evidence from Norwegian Donkey Pronouns
Dave Kush, Ragnhild Eik
August 2019

It is generally assumed that interpreting a co-referential or a syntactically-bound pronoun requires retrieving a representation of its antecedent from memory. Donkey pronouns (e.g., Geach 1962) are pronouns that co-vary in interpretation with non-c-commanding indefinite QPs in apparent violation of structural constraints on QP-pronoun relations (Reinhart 1976). Recent research (Moulton & Han 2018) has hypothesized that the real-time processing of donkey pronouns may not involve retrieval of the co-varying indefinite QP as an antecedent, because non-c-commanding QPs are assumed to be inaccessible to retrieval. We tested this hypothesis with a self-paced reading study that compared the processing of standard co-referential pronouns and donkey pronouns in Norwegian. Contrary to the hypothesis, our results indicate that donkey pronouns retrieve a feature-matching antecedent from memory in a manner analogous to how co-referential pronouns retrieve a referential antecedent. Our findings imply that retrieval of a feature-matching antecedent is a necessary step in the processing of all pronouns, irrespective of their ultimate interpretation. Moreover, retrieval does not uniformly ignore non-referential NPs that fail to c-command a pronoun. We briefly discuss the implications of these findings for psycholinguistic models of anaphora resolution and formal theories of donkey pronouns.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/004703
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Glossa
keywords: sentence processing; donkey pronouns; c-command; antecedent retrieval; norwegian, semantics, syntax
previous versions: v2 [July 2019]
v1 [March 2018]
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