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Who is the agent? The influence of pragmatic leads on children’s reference assignment in non-obligatory control.

Janke, Vikki (2018) Who is the agent? The influence of pragmatic leads on children’s reference assignment in non-obligatory control. Journal of Child Language, 45 (2). pp. 442-478. ISSN 0305-0009. E-ISSN 1469-7602. (doi:10.1017/S0305000917000320) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Abstract

Non-obligatory control constructions (NOC) are sentences which contain a non-finite clause with a null subject whose reference is determined pragmatically. Little is known about how children assign reference to these subjects yet this is important as our current understanding of reference-resolution development is limited to less complex sentences with overt elements, such as pronouns. This study explores how 76 children (aged 6 to 11) consult pragmatic leads when assigning reference in two examples of NOC. Children undertook three picture-selection tasks, containing no lead, a weak lead and a strong lead, and their reference choices in the critical sentences were monitored. The novel results pinpoint children’s baseline interpretations of the ambiguous sentences and expose an age trend in the degree to which they consult strong pragmatic leads when resolving reference. These trends illustrate how reference assignment in more complex discourse-governed contexts progresses, thereby contributing an important dimension to the pragmatics acquisition literature.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1017/S0305000917000320
Uncontrolled keywords: reference assignment; pragmatic development
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages > English Language and Linguistics
Depositing User: Vikki Janke
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2017 10:25 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 19:12 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/62281 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Janke, Vikki: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1149-6999
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