GRS LX 700 Language Acquisition and Linguistic Theory Week 7. The Trouble With Principle B Binding Theory Binding Theory Constraints on assignment of reference. Reflexives (himself, herself, themselves, …) Pronouns (he, she, they, him, her, …) Names (inherent reference) Binding Theory Principle A A reflexive (herself) must have a (ccommanding) antecedent in its governing category. Mary saw herself in the mirror. Mary said John saw herself in the window. John stole [Mary’s pictures of herself]. Mary stole [John’s pictures of herself]. Governing category ≈ sentence or DP. Binding Theory Principle B A pronoun (her) must not have a (ccommanding) antecedent in its governing category. Mary saw her in the mirror. Mary said John saw her in the window. John stole [Mary’s pictures of her]. Mary stole [John’s pictures of her]. Governing category ≈ sentence or DP. Binding Theory Principle C A name/r-expression (Mary) must not have a (ccommanding) antecedent at all. She saw Mary in the mirror. She said John saw Mary in the window. Mary stole [his pictures of John]. He stole [her pictures of John]. He said that Mary believes Sue stole my pictures of John. Constraints Every bear is washing her face. Bunch of bears washing Goldilocks’ face. Bunch of bears cleaning their own faces. Every bear is washing her. Bunch of bears washing Goldilocks’ face. Based on what evidence would kids conclude that the second context is not described by the second sentence? Ordering For adults, Binding Theory is more than just about order. It’s abstract, about structure. He said that Mickey won. Mickey said that he won. Before he went to school, Mickey ate a sandwich. No c-command, no problem. Binding Theory The principles of Binding Theory seem to be universal, represented in all languages. They prohibit certain interpretations (that is, are unlearnable from positive evidence) The principles of Binding Theory are part of Universal Grammar, not learned. Binding Theory Yet… Experiments seem have shown that sentences ruled out by Binding Theory seem to be accepted by kids. Do kids take a while to learn Binding Theory (even supposing it is learnable)? When do they know it? C. Chomsky (1969) Tested Principle C with kids and proposed that kids go through three stages: Stage 1. Stage 2. Coreference is unconstrained. Linear order strategy for pronominalization (linear order; antecedent must precede pronoun) Stage 3. Principle C is obeyed. C. Chomsky (1969) “He found out that Mickey won the race.” “Who found out?” Kid points to someone, maybe Mickey. “After he found out, Mickey left.” “Pluto thinks he knows everything.” Stage 2: Some kids never picked Mickey. Is backward pronominalization disallowed in these kids’ grammars? Linear order strategy Do kids go through a stage where they have a strategy for pronouns instead of Binding Theory? Lust (1981): When asked to repeat, kids repeated forward pronominalizations much more accurately than redundant (name…name) sequences or backwards pronominalizations. Linear order strategy But this doesn’t tell us that there aren’t grammatical principles governing their use of pronouns and/or reflexives. If it tells us anything, it only tells us that, of the grammatical options, forward pronominalization is preferred. “Preference parameter”? Lust in fact elevates this to the status of a parameter: head-final languages prefer backwards pronominalization, head-initial languages prefer forwards pronominalization. Lust claimed there was a difference in preference between English and Japanese; O’Grady failed to replicate the difference between English and Korean. This is not a good parameter anyway. Languages do not differ in what they allow, just in how much they like a type of sentence. Onset of Binding Theory If Binding Theory is part of UG, not learned, we’d expect that kids start out already knowing it. Caveat: Of course, the kids need to know what is a pronoun and what is a reflexive before they can use Binding Theory. However: We expect to find that the first available evidence should show that kids know Binding Theory. Onset of Binding Theory But it doesn’t seem to turn out as we’d expect… Several experiments seem to show that while kids show early evidence of knowing Principle A, they (appear to) consistently fail to observe Principle B—even up to (and beyond) 6 years old. Chien & Wexler (1990) Explored the question of whether kids know Principles A and B from the outset or not. First three experiments show: Kids correctly require local antecedents for reflexives (Principle A) early on Kids are significantly delayed in requiring nonlocal antecedents for pronouns (Principle B). C&W90: Experiment I Tests Principle A (reflexives require a local antecedent) by providing sentences with two possible antecedents (one local, one not). “Simon says” act-out task. Kitty says that Sarah should point to herself. Kitty says that Sarah should point to her. Kitty says that Adam should point to her. C&W90: Experiment II Checking the effects of finiteness and gender control on reflexives. Kitty wants Sarah to point to herself. Kitty wants Sarah to point to her. Kitty wants Adam to point to her Snoopy wants Sarah to point to herself. C&W90: Experiment III Increased the number of conditions to test for pragmatic strategies and to replicate the results with a different task. (Previous task was “Simon [Snoopy/Kitty] says…”, this task was “Party game” which involved giving objects to people/puppets sitting at a table). C&W90: Experiments I-II Kids from 2.5 to 6 showed a steady increase (from about 13% to about 90%) in requiring herself to take a local antecedent. C&W90: Experiments I-II For some reason, kids seemed to perform better with nonfinite verbs (want); C&W have no particular explanation. C&W90: Experiments I-II Kids showed no significant development in requiring her to take a non-local antecedent (about 75% across the board) C&W90: Experiments I-II Gender cues for non-local pronoun brought kids’ performance up to nearperfect. Had little effect on reflexives. C&W90: Experiment III results Previous results replicated for new task. Young kids did better (operated at chance) for Principle A (meaning that they don’t have a systematic non-local coreference principle they are following—cf. Experiment I result showing them at 13% correct) C&W90: Possibilities so far… Kids have to learn Principle B it takes a while. Her is harder to learn than herself. But kids use pronouns first (I saw him sentences indicate that they’re pronouns). Principle B matures (constraints enforcing coreference before those prohibiting coreference?) But how on positive evidence alone? *UG-constrained maturation “Principle B errors” aren’t Principle B problems. Chien & Wexler (1990) Kids do know the difference between pronouns and reflexives (they aren’t treating them all as reflexives). E.g., I saw him, *I saw himself. Kids say sentences like I saw him often enough, but they do seem to know that reflexives need a local antecedent. So what’s wrong with Principle B? Chien & Wexler (1990): Nothing is wrong with Principle B. Kids know and respect Principle B all along. Consider what adults can do: That must be John—or at least he looks an awful lot like him. So do adults violate Principle B? Coindexation Principle B says that coindexation between a pronoun and an antecedent is prohibited if the antecedent is too close. Assuming adults obey this, that previous sentence must have been: That must be John—or at least hei looks an awful lot like himj. …where i and j are accidentally coreferent. Coindexation If two noun phrases share the same index, they necessarily share the same referent. Coindexation implies coreference. If two noun phrases do not share the same index, does this mean they can’t share the same referent? Does contraindexation imply non-coreference? Coindexation The idea behind the Chien & Wexler account of the Principle B “delay” is that adults know the pragmatic Principle P, but kids are unable to use it right away. Principle P Contraindexed NPs are non-coreferential unless the context explicitly forces coreference. Coindexation So, when a kid agrees that… …meaning ‘Mama Bear is pointing to herself’, what the kid really said was Mama Bear is pointing to her. Mama Beari is pointing to herj. …ok by Principle B, but violating Principle P (by allowing i and j both to refer to Mama Bear). How could we ever tell? But how can we tell if it’s Principle P that kids don’t obey and not Principle B, given that they both seem to allow Mama bear is pointing to her ‘…herself’? Answer: Principle B also governs the use of bound pronouns, which Principle P has nothing to say about. Bound pronouns A bound pronoun is like his in: Every boyi is looking for hisi keys. …and these are subject to Principle B, but they do not have a fixed referent, so accidental coreference is not an option here. *Every boyi admires himi. Prediction So, if found that kids accept (her = Mama Bear) …but refused to accept Mama bear points to her Every beari points to heri. (her = each bear in turn) …then kids know Principle B (and what they lack is probably Principle P). Chien & Wexler (1990) First three experiments established that Principle B appears to be delayed with respect to Principle A. Fourth experiment establishes that kids obey Principle B when coindexation would be forced by a bound variable interpretation. C&W90: Experiment IV Principle B (but not Principle P) applies also to bound pronouns—if the kids know Principle B and not Principle P, we expect to see kids getting bound pronouns right (unlike referring pronouns, as previous three experiments showed). C&W90: Experiment IV items Name-reflexive Is Mama Bear touching herself? Name-pronoun Is Mama Bear touching her? C&W90: Experiment IV items Quantifier-reflexive Is every bear touching herself? Quantifier-pronoun Is every bear touching her? C&W90: Experiment IV controls Name-name Every-name Is Mama Bear pointing to Goldilocks? Is every bear pointing to Goldilocks? All-name Are all of the bears pointing to Goldilocks? C&W90: Experiment IV control results Kids under 5 did poorly on the mismatch (“no”) condition for every and all; they did less poorly on the mismatch condition for names. Kids under 5 haven’t quite mastered quantifiers. (So we can’t test Principle B with them) C&W90: Experiment IV reflexive results Kids over 5 did near-perfect with respect to Principle A (name-reflexive and quantifierreflexive match/mismatch). C&W90: Experiment IV name-pronoun Kids did badly on the name-pronoun mismatch cases, steadily rising from about 70% wrong to about 25% wrong between 4 and 7. C&W90: Experiment IV quantifier-pronoun Under 5, kids were operating around chance (they don’t understand how quantifiers work yet) Over 5, they were at 80% correct and above—in particular, better than on the name-pronoun condition; they seem to know Principle B. C&W90: Appendix I reflexives 80 60 40 4;09 20 2;08 0 0 2 4 6 8 10 80 60 40 20 4;09 0 2;08 0 2 4 6 8 10 C&W90: Appendix I pronouns 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 4;09 2;08 0 2 4 6 8 10 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 5;08 4;03 2;08 0 2 4 6 8 10 C&W90: Appendix I E4: name-pron & quant-pron 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 70 60 50 40 30 6;04 20 10 0 3;05 5;05 3;05 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 Chien & Wexler (1990) overall results By the time kids understand quantifiers like every and all, pronouns, and reflexives, they apply Principle B. Where accidental coreference is possible (despite violating Principle P), kids will allow it about half of the time. Thornton & Wexler (1999) What pragmatic knowledge do children lack? Broadly speaking, children appear to have difficulty evaluating other speakers’ intentions… As speakers, children fail to distinguish between their knowledge and that of listeners… [c]hildren use pronouns without first ensuring that a referent has been introduced into the conversational context… As listeners, children appear to assign interpretations to other speakers’ utterances that require special contextual support to be felicitous for adults… (pp. 14-15) Thornton & Wexler (1999) Replicated Chien & Wexler (1990) and also tested VP ellipsis cases—another case where a pronoun can be bound. Papa Bear wiped his face and Brother Bear did [wiped his face] too. His = Papa Bear’s (strict—coreference) His = Brother Bear’s (sloppy—bound) Parallelism VP ellipsis is subject to a parallelism constraint in the elided material. NPs in the elided and antecedent VP must Both be bound variables or both be referential pronouns (structural parallelism) If the pronouns are referential, they must have the same referent (referential parallelism). Parallelism PB wiped his face and BB did [wiped his face] too. his in the first clause is bound by PB. His in second must also be bound by the subject, there BB. His in first clause is referential. It refers to GB. His in second clause must be referential, and must also refer to GB. Kids are expected to obey structural parallelism; grammar (not pragmatics) Truth value judgment task Experimenter 1 tells a story, moves the toys. Experimenter 2 plays a puppet, who has to report what’s just happened. The kid decides, based on whether the puppet told the truth about what happened, to either give the puppet a cookie or make it do pushups. If the puppet gets it wrong, the puppet asks the kid “What really happened?” 19 kids, 4;0 to 5;1 Replicating the basic result Bert and 3 reindeer have a snowball fight and get all covered in snow. They go inside, Bert asks the reindeer to brush the snow off of him. 2 reindeer refuse, and brushing themselves off; the third helped a little, but mainly concentrates on brushing the snow off himself. Every reindeer brushed him. (No: 92%) √G2 Every reindeer brushed himself. (Yes: 88%) √G2 WRH? “Only one of them helped him” WRH? Other stuff too. Bert brushed him. (No: 42%) (group 1: No) Brushed hisself? Him? Wiped him? Bert?? Testing VP ellipsis The caveman kissed the dinosaur and Fozzie Bear did too. (Correct: 100%) IH brushed someone else’s hair, trolls brushed their own hair. The Incredible Hulk brushed his hair and every Troll did too. (Yes[*SP]: 3%) √G2 WRH? Only the IH did. (First conjunct consistently controls structural parallelism). Testing VP ellipsis Lizard man and the ugly guy for some reason opt to lift up some other characters. Lizard man lifts Mickey, ugly guy lifts the Smurf. The lizard man lifted him and the ugly guy did too. (No: 79%) 21% overriding referential parallelism? Pragmatic? W&T say “probably”. Testing Principle B Everyone is covered with glitter, Batman and 2 turtles refuse to help Smurf out because they are cleaning themselves. One turtle briefly helps Smurf, but then returns to cleaning himself. Batman cleaned him and every turtle did too. (No: 86%) √G2 Batman cleaned himself and every turtle did too. (Yes: 95%) Testing Principle C He dusted the skeleton. (No: 92%) √G2 The kiwi bird cleaned Flash Gordon and he did too. (No: 46%—adults 83%!) √G1 What’s going on? Stress (even implicit due to the ellipsis)? Thornton & Wexler (1999) Conclusions: Kids seem to know and obey Principle B, Principle C, and structural parallelism. Kids seem to have more trouble with referential parallelism and the contexts for constructions of “guises”.