Linguistics PhD candidate Alan Hezao Ke is the lead author on a new paper published online March 5 in the Journal of Psycholinguistic Research. The paper is titled “On the Implicit Anaphoric Argument of Relational Nouns in Mandarin Chinese.” Linguistics Professor Acrisio Pires is one of four coauthors.

Read the full abstract below.


On the Implicit Anaphoric Argument of Relational Nouns in Mandarin Chinese

This paper provides experimental and theoretical evidence for the syntactic realization of an implicit possessor argument in Relational Nouns (RNs, e.g. father) in Mandarin Chinese. The results of Experiment 1 show that the antecedent of the implicit argument in RNs must be a noun phrase (NP) in the sentence where the RN is located, rather than an NP in the discourse context. Experiment 2 shows that the implicit argument of RNs must be bound by a c-commanding NP. The results exclude the possibility that the RNs’ implicit argument is a pronominal that would link to a contextually salient NP and would not require a c-commanding referential antecedent. Rather, the experimental results show that the identification of the antecedent of the RNs’ implicit argument is constrained by the same principle of binding theory that constrains the reflexive zìjǐ ‘self’, specifically requiring a c-commanding antecedent.