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Understanding anaphora: Rules used by readers in assigning pronominal referents*

Understanding anaphora: Rules used by readers in assigning pronominal referents* The focus in this experiment was on the analysis of cohesive elements within a text and on the difficulty of their resolution within a particular text structure. The cohesive form we selected was a particular type of anaphoric reference—pronominal reference. The subjects' task was to read a text, sentence by sentence. The texts presented contained pronouns, and referents for the pronouns. In addition to reading the text, subjects were occasionally asked to report the correct referent for a pronoun that had appeared in the sentence they had just completed. With this probe task motivating them to analyze reference problems carefully as they were encountered, subjects' reading times were found to be closely related to structural properties of the text. Text variables of importance included the number of potential referents available, topicalization of the correct referent, staging of references to the correct or to alternative noun phrases, and the degree of ambiguity of the semantic constraints within the target sentence used in selecting the proper referent. The results support a reinstatement theory in which a number of available, potential referents are brought forward into working 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 prioritizing rules that are sensitive to the staging of ideas within a text, and to features of surface syntactic structure, as well as to proposi‐tional content. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Discourse Processes Taylor & Francis

Understanding anaphora: Rules used by readers in assigning pronominal referents*

Discourse Processes , Volume 4 (4): 25 – Oct 1, 1981

Understanding anaphora: Rules used by readers in assigning pronominal referents*

Discourse Processes , Volume 4 (4): 25 – Oct 1, 1981

Abstract

The focus in this experiment was on the analysis of cohesive elements within a text and on the difficulty of their resolution within a particular text structure. The cohesive form we selected was a particular type of anaphoric reference—pronominal reference. The subjects' task was to read a text, sentence by sentence. The texts presented contained pronouns, and referents for the pronouns. In addition to reading the text, subjects were occasionally asked to report the correct referent for a pronoun that had appeared in the sentence they had just completed. With this probe task motivating them to analyze reference problems carefully as they were encountered, subjects' reading times were found to be closely related to structural properties of the text. Text variables of importance included the number of potential referents available, topicalization of the correct referent, staging of references to the correct or to alternative noun phrases, and the degree of ambiguity of the semantic constraints within the target sentence used in selecting the proper referent. The results support a reinstatement theory in which a number of available, potential referents are brought forward into working 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 prioritizing rules that are sensitive to the staging of ideas within a text, and to features of surface syntactic structure, as well as to proposi‐tional content.

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References (8)

Publisher
Taylor & Francis
Copyright
Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN
1532-6950
eISSN
0163-853X
DOI
10.1080/01638538109544525
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The focus in this experiment was on the analysis of cohesive elements within a text and on the difficulty of their resolution within a particular text structure. The cohesive form we selected was a particular type of anaphoric reference—pronominal reference. The subjects' task was to read a text, sentence by sentence. The texts presented contained pronouns, and referents for the pronouns. In addition to reading the text, subjects were occasionally asked to report the correct referent for a pronoun that had appeared in the sentence they had just completed. With this probe task motivating them to analyze reference problems carefully as they were encountered, subjects' reading times were found to be closely related to structural properties of the text. Text variables of importance included the number of potential referents available, topicalization of the correct referent, staging of references to the correct or to alternative noun phrases, and the degree of ambiguity of the semantic constraints within the target sentence used in selecting the proper referent. The results support a reinstatement theory in which a number of available, potential referents are brought forward into working 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 prioritizing rules that are sensitive to the staging of ideas within a text, and to features of surface syntactic structure, as well as to proposi‐tional content.

Journal

Discourse ProcessesTaylor & Francis

Published: Oct 1, 1981

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