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The pronoun interpretation problem in Italian complex predicates

Brunetto, Valentina (2012) The pronoun interpretation problem in Italian complex predicates. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the syntactic and pragmatic factors involved in the interpretation of clitic pronouns in Principle B contexts in both theoretical and acquisition perspective. The Pronoun Interpretation Problem, i.e. children’s apparent difficulty with the application of Principle B, defines a stage lasting up to about age 6: (1) Mama Beari is washing heri (50% correct at age 5;6) (2) Lo gnomoi lo*i lava (85% correct at age 4;8) Italian The gnome him.washes It is assumed that clitic pronouns like lo are exempted from interpretation problems because they can only be interpreted via binding. Romance children, however, show interpretation problems in complex sentences like (3): (3) La niñai lai ve bailar (64% correct at age 5;6) Sentences like the above, which involve Exceptional Case Marking, are the main focus of the present research. We maintain that (3) can only be explained if Principle B does not apply to these structures, as also proposed by Reinhart and Reuland’s (1993) and Reuland’s (2001) alternative binding theories. In order to explain (i) why clitics can only be interpreted via binding in simple sentences like (2) and (ii) why binding does not apply to (3), we draw on two fundamental assumptions: (i) binding effects in object cliticization are the output of the narrow syntactic derivation, specifically, of movement to the left edge of v*P; (ii) under a phase‐based model of syntactic derivations (Chomsky 2001), the binding domain is not the sentence, but the vP phase. We argue that the derivation in (3) contains an unbound occurrence of the pronoun, which allows children to covalue the matrix subject and the pronoun in pragmatics; such hypothesis receives support by our experimental finding that another complex predicate in Italian, causative faire‐par, triggers PIP. Ultimately, we suggest that the PIP can be ascribed to a unitary cause across languages, namely, the delayed pragmatic acquisition of local coreference.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
ISBN: 978-0-85731-266-2
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Languages Cultures and Societies (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.564191
Depositing User: Repository Administrator
Date Deposited: 03 Jan 2013 13:03
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 11:24
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/3234

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