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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Linguistics

Year Degree Awarded

2017

Month Degree Awarded

September

First Advisor

Dr. Brian Dillon

Second Advisor

Dr. Lyn Frazier

Third Advisor

Dr. Kyle Johnson

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Adrian Staub

Subject Categories

Psycholinguistics and Neurolinguistics | Syntax

Abstract

It has been claimed that comprehenders use the Binding Theory (Chomsky, 1986) to restrict the search for a reflexive’s antecedent in early stages of comprehension (Dillon, Mishler, Sloggett, & Phillips, 2013; Sturt, 2003; Nicol & Swinney, 1989) However, recent findings challenge this view, demonstrating that comprehenders occasionally access antecedents on the basis of their match with a reflexive’s morphosyntactic features (Chen, Jäger, & Vasishth, 2012; Patil, Lewis, & Vasishth, 2016, Parker, & Phillips, 2017). In this dissertation, I investigate the source of this ’grammatical fallibility’ in the real-time application of Principle A of the Binding Theory. Specifically, I ask whether this pattern of behavior is the direct consequence of an error-prone retrieval mechanism, or if it is instead the result of a discourse-oriented, logophoric interpretation of reflexive forms. This work presents four experiments demonstrating that comprehenders only consider non-Principle A antecedents which act as prominent perspective holders in the discourse. I explain these findings by appealing to local, logophoric center available for reflexive reference.

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