ERIC Number: ED205930
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1981-Jul
Reference Count: N/A
Understanding Anaphora: Rules Used by Readers in Assigning Pronominal Referents. Technical Report No. 3, December 1, 1976 through July 1, 1980.
Frederiksen, John R.
A study analyzed the cohesive elements found within a text and the difficulty of their resolution within a particular text structure. The specific cohesive form used was pronominal reference. Each of forty-four students in grades ten through twelve was asked to read, sentence by sentence, a text which contained pronouns and pronoun referents. They were interrupted occasionally and asked to report the correct referent for a pronoun that had appeared in a sentence they had just completed reading. With this probe task motivating them, the subjects' reading times were found to be closely related to structural properties of the text. Text variables found to be important included the number of potential referents available, "topicalization" of the correct referent, staging of referents to the correct or to the alternative noun phrases, and the degree of ambiguity of the semantic constraints within the target sentence. The results supported a reinstatement theory in which a number of available, potential referents are brought into memory at the time a pronoun is encountered. The selection of a single referent from the set of potential referents is based upon a set of rules that are sensitive to the staging of ideas within the text and to features of surface syntactic structure as well as to propositional content. (Author/FL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Naval Research, Arlington, VA. Personnel and Training Research Programs Office.; National Inst. of Education (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Bolt, Beranek and Newman, Inc., Cambridge, MA.