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On variation in gender agreement

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Abstract

Studies on developments in pronominal gender agreement often focus on the semantic guidelines that are used instead of grammatical agreement. However, pragmatic factors contribute to the competition between syntactic and semantic agreement as well. This paper analyzes two prominence factors contributing to the overall discourse salience of the antecedent noun and their impact on grammatical agreement in personal pronouns. First, the results will reveal that the antecedent’s referential status i.e. the assumed cognitive status the antecedent has in the mind of the addressee (cf. the Givenness Hierarchy) exerts influence on the use of gender-marked pronouns. Secondly, this study will indicate that antecedents in subject position trigger more syntactic agreement than antecedents with other grammatical functions.

References

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