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Resolution of the antecedent of a plural pronoun

Sungryong Koh, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This study is about the interpretation of a plural pronoun in English. A two-stage performance model is proposed on the basis of Link's competence theory which claims that plurals denote sums of individuals, i.e. groups. The first stage is the construction of group discourse entities on syntactic and non-syntactic grounds. Construction on syntactic grounds is described by the NP rule which states that an N P with a plural feature triggers a group discourse entity. Construction on non-syntactic grounds is described by the equivalence hypothesis which states that if two individuals are equivalent with respect to some property, they can be collected as a group. The second stage concerns the selection of the preferred antecedent. I proposed the closure strategy which states that if all the individuals in the interpretation domain belong to one group, select this group as the antecedent of a plural pronoun. One crucial prediction of this model is the preference for the maximal group in the interpretation domain. Experiments 1, 2 and 3 tested whether symmetric predicates lead to the construction of a group. Experiments 4 and 5 tested whether ontological knowledge influences the construction of a group. Experiment 6 tested whether perspective influences the interpretation of a plural pronoun.

Subject Area

Cognitive therapy|Language

Recommended Citation

Koh, Sungryong, "Resolution of the antecedent of a plural pronoun" (2001). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3000314.