Children's Knowledge of Locality Conditions in Binding as Evidence for the Modularity of Syntax and Pragmatics

  • Chien Y
  • Wexler K
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Abstract

We report three experiments concerning English-speaking children's knowl- edge of locality conditions in the binding of reflexives and pronouns (Principles A and B). The children tested were between the ages of 2;6 and 6;6. By age 6, children know that a reflexive must be locally bound. At the same age, however, they appear to not know that a pronoun may not be locally bound. We suggest that childrenare missing a pragmatic principle, not the syntactic Principle B. This hypothesis predicts that children will not accept a local antecedent for a pronoun that is a bound variable. Experiment 4 confirms this prediction. We conclude that children know the grammatical principles of binding but do not know a relevant pragmatic principle. We suggest that such dissociation in children might be a useful tool in the study of linguistic theory

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Authors

  • Yu Chin Chien

  • Kenneth Wexler

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