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Title:The Influence of Discourse Representations on Young Children's Pronoun Interpretation
Author(s):Song, Hyun-Joo
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Fisher, Cynthia
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Language, Linguistics
Abstract:Five experiments examined whether preschoolers' comprehension of pronouns was affected by the discourse prominence of the possible antecedents. In each experiment, children listened to short stories. The final (test) sentence of each story differed in whether it continued the grammatical subject and/or first-mentioned character established in prior sentences or shifted to a new one, and whether it had a pronoun or a lexical noun phrase subject. I assessed comprehension by measuring responses in a looking-preference comprehension task. The results revealed a continued-subject bias in the interpretation of pronouns: Children tended to interpret a pronoun as coreferential with the subject (and first-mentioned character) in the preceding context. Thus young children's comprehension of a sentence is affected not only by knowledge of its words and syntactic structure, but also by the prominence of each referent in a representation of the discourse; referent prominence is affected by some of the same factors that affect coreference processing in adulthood. These findings suggest considerable continuity in the basic architecture of the sentence processing system throughout development.
Issue Date:2004
Description:112 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2004.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3153430
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2004

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