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date: 20 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews psycholinguistic research on reference resolution. Firstly, it discusses experiments on the interpretation of overt pronouns indicating that topicality-related properties of potential antecedents—such as subjecthood, givenness, and pronominalization—guide pronoun interpretation. Perhaps surprisingly, other studies show that focus-related factors are also at play. Experimental data is then reviewed from languages with both null and overt pronouns (e.g., Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Korean). Many experiments on reference views pronoun resolution as a search process, in contrast to an alternative account which regards it as by-product of general inferencing/reasoning about the semantic coherence relations between clauses. Recent work has explored possible ways of reconciling these views, and has also started to investigate the mental representation of coherence relations and the relation to perspective-taking. The final part of the chapter, reviews consequences of humans’ processing limitations on pronoun production and interpretation, including cataphora and the possibility of shallow processing.

Keywords: reference resolution, psycholinguistics, pronoun interpretation, topic, focus, null pronouns, overt pronouns, coherence relations, perspective taking, cataphora

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