Resolving pronominal anaphora in real-time

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This study aims at contributing to research on the comprehension of pronominal subjects by adding novel evidence through an on-line experiment. A self-paced reading task designed for testing antecedent assignment with forward anaphora is used to compare processing of null and overt pronouns in fourteen native speakers (NS) and thirteen near native speakers (NNS) of Italian. Results are compared with data obtained through an off-line task (picture verification task) administered to the same group of experimental subjects. Findings confirm that residual difficulties at near-native level of proficiency still persist. Specifically, a discrepancy emerges between NS and NNS with respect to antecedent assignment in overt pronoun contexts. The contrast between off- and on-line processing data is particularly revealing in that it suggests that divergent patterns between the two populations might be attributed to competition for processing resources between languages rather than specific processing difficulties.


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