An experiment on the acquisition of regular Principle B contexts and Exceptional Coreference contexts forcing the coreference reading by English-speaking children is presented. The author maintains that binding is determined by the syntax and adopts Levinson's (2000) implicatures-based account of disjoint reference and coreference. It is further argued that Levinson's account needs to be supplemented with a Discourse Condition on Exceptional Coreference Contexts that requires the presence of an Open Proposition. The main experimental finding was that children went through a non-adult stage where they did well on regular Principle B contexts and misinterpreted Exceptional Coreference Contexts as regular Principle B contexts. This result was predicted on the author's account, but not on Thornton and Wexler's (1999) or Reinhart's (2004) accounts of the Principle B lag. Children's poor performance on interpreting Exceptional Coreference Contexts is attributed to their pragmatic difficulty with computing Open Propositions.
Proceedings of the 2nd Conference on Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition North America (GALANA)
edited by Alyona Belikova, Luisa Meroni, and Mari Umeda
Table of contents