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ERIC Number: EJ824978
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jan
Pages: 30
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0305-0009
Coherent Discourse Solves the Pronoun Interpretation Problem
Spenader, Jennifer; Smits, Erik-Jan; Hendriks, Petra
Journal of Child Language, v36 n1 p23-52 Jan 2009
Many comprehension studies have shown that children as late as age 6 ; 6 misinterpret object pronouns as co-referring with the referential subject about half the time. A recent review of earlier experiments testing children's interpretation of object pronouns in sentences with quantified subjects (Elbourne, 2005) also suggests that there is a "Pronoun Interpretation Problem". In contrast, two experiments addressing English children's pronoun production (Bloom, Barss, Nicol & Conway, 1994; de Villiers, Cahillane & Altreuter, 2006) show almost perfect usage. The aim of this study is to verify this asymmetry between pronoun production and pronoun comprehension for Dutch, and to investigate the effects of coherent discourse and topicality on pronoun production and comprehension. Employing a truth-value judgment task and an elicited production task, this study indeed finds such an asymmetry in 83 Dutch children (age range 4 ; 5-6 ; 6). When object pronouns were clearly established as the topic of the target sentence, the Pronoun Interpretation Problem dissolved entirely. These results are compatible with the asymmetrical grammar hypothesis of Hendriks & Spenader (2005/2006) and suggest, contrary to many previous claims, that children are highly proficient at using pragmatic clues in interpretation.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Netherlands