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Intensifiers in German and Dutch Anaphor Resolution
Elsi Kaiser and Jeffrey T. Runner
265-273 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This paper investigates the factors that guide the interpretation of different anaphoric forms in picture noun phrases (e.g. picture of her/herself) in Dutch and German. The two experiments presented here (Experiment 1 on German, Experiment 2 on Dutch) have two main aims: to test whether the authors' earlier findings from English on the effects of semantic information extend to other languages, and to further their understanding of the source/nature of these effects. The authors investigated the interpretation of pronouns, reflexives and emphatic forms in sentences of the type 'Peter {told/heard from} Andrew about the picture of {him/himself}.' Use of tell vs. hear allows us to manipulate whether the subject or the object is the source-of-information or perceiver-of-information. The results indicate that in PNPs, reflexives in Dutch and German (zichzelf and sich respectively) show a strong preference for the subject, modulated by a source preference. This is similar to the authors' earlier findings for English reflexives. Pronouns, on the other hand, show a preference for perceivers in all three languages. Thus, the authors conclude that the semantic source/perceiver patterns extend beyond English. The results for emphatic reflexives in German (sich selbst) and emphatic pronouns in Dutch (hemzelf/haarzelf) help us to further understand the nature of the source/perceiver effects. In German, the results for 'plain' reflexives and emphatic reflexives are very similar, indicating that a source preference arises with reflexives regardless of whether an intensifier is present or not. This suggests that source effects cannot be 'blamed' on intensification and must be allowed even for regular reflexives. The Dutch data indicate that regular pronouns and emphatic pronouns do not pattern as a unified class—emphatic pronouns pattern more like reflexives than like pronouns—suggesting that source/perceiver patterns can be separated from the reflexive/pronoun distinction and that the source preference may stem from a more general preference for prominent antecedents.

Published in

Proceedings of the 27th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Natasha Abner and Jason Bishop
Table of contents
Printed edition: $375.00