Effects of Clefting and Left-Dislocation on Subject and Object Pronoun Resolution in Spanish
Israel de la Fuente and Barbara Hemforth
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The present study investigates the role of two syntactic constructions affecting the discourse status of antecedents (left-dislocation and clefting) in the intra-sentential resolution of ambiguous null subject and object clitic pronouns in Spanish. The results of two offline questionnaires show that pronoun interpretation changes significantly from a canonical construction as a result of the experimental manipulations of the discourse status of the antecedents. Crucially, however, the two syntactic constructions investigated do not have the same effect on participants' preferences: while there was a general preference for left-dislocated antecedents, participants dispreferred clefted antecedents at least intra-sententially, a pattern that has also been attested for subject pronoun resolution in French and German (Colonna et al., 2012). The differences between left-dislocation and clefting have been argued to be a consequence of a preference for topic continuity. It is suggested that the semantic and syntactic structure of clefts may provide a better explanation for our observations. A third questionnaire investigated experimental context effects on the resolution of null and overt subject pronouns.
Selected Proceedings of the 16th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium
edited by Jennifer Cabrelli Amaro, Gillian Lord, Ana de Prada Pérez, and Jessi Elana Aaron
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