Faculté des lettres et sciences humaines

Between anaphora and deixis … The resolution of the demonstrative noun phrase “that N”

Fossard, Marion ; Garnham, Alan ; Wind Cowles, H.

In: Language and Cognitive Processes, 2012, vol. 29, no. 2, p. 1385-1404

Three experiments examined the hypothesis that the demonstrative noun phrase (NP) that N, as an anadeictic expression, preferentially refers to the less salient referent in a discourse representation when used anaphorically, whereas the anaphoric pronoun he or she preferentially refers to the highly-focused referent. The findings, from a sentence completion task and two reading time experiments... Plus

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    Summary
    Three experiments examined the hypothesis that the demonstrative noun phrase (NP) that N, as an anadeictic expression, preferentially refers to the less salient referent in a discourse representation when used anaphorically, whereas the anaphoric pronoun he or she preferentially refers to the highly-focused referent. The findings, from a sentence completion task and two reading time experiments that used gender to create ambiguous and unambiguous coreference, reveal that the demonstrative NP specifically orients processing toward a less salient referent when there is no gender cue discriminating between different possible referents. These findings show the importance of taking into account the discourse function of the anaphor itself and its influence on the process of searching for the referent.