Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Kyle Johnson

Second Advisor

Brian Dillon

Third Advisor

Rajesh Bhatt

Fourth Advisor

Adrian Staub

Subject Categories

Linguistics | Psycholinguistics and Neurolinguistics | Semantics and Pragmatics | Syntax


This dissertation investigates the real-time comprehension and final interpretation of object pronouns in Vietnamese, a language in which reflexive and non-reflexive pronominal forms have overlapping meanings. It addresses the questions of whether and how Principle B is applied as a structural constraint to determine the appropriate antecedent for pronouns in the language. The central argument is that Vietnamese speakers rely on two distinct mechanisms to resolve anaphoric relations: Within a pronoun's local domain, even though coreference is highly permissive, binding is strictly prohibited. Results from three two-alternative forced choice and three self-paced reading experiments show consistent profiles for both the online and offline processes: Non-local subjects are always preferred, and local subjects are only accessible when they are referential, but not quantified, noun phrases. These patterns align with the key predictions of a pragmatic approach to pronominal competition, supporting the view of characterizing Binding Theory as a competitive model.