The Proper Formulation of the Overt Pronoun Constraint: Evidence from Persian and Azeri

Mohsen Jannejad, Reza Banari, Anahita Bordbar, Ali Bardide

Abstract


Generativists claim that there are some structural properties of the grammar that cannot be acquired solely on the basis of input. It is argued that such properties, known as principles, are part of UG common to all languages. The Overt Pronoun Constraint (OPC) principle, the focus of the present study, asserts that if in any language an alternation between overt/null pronouns be possible, the overt pronoun in an embedded clause cannot take a quantifier such as someone, everybody, and nobody as its antecedent in the main clause. To study OPC principle in four groups of speakers, namely Persian heritage, Persian monolingual, Azeri heritage, and Azeri monolingual, the present study gathered data from 20 participants in each group. Participants completed two comprehension tasks, i.e. a Picture-Matching Task (PMT), and a Sentence-Selection Task (SST). Both tasks tested the interpretation of the implicit knowledge of the OPC with quantified antecedents. All quantifiers were assumed to be treated equally in both tasks. Results of the SST revealed that there was no statistically significant difference between monolingual speakers of Persian and Azeri monolingual languages in understanding the interpretative contrast between overt and null pronouns within OPC contexts. Regarding the heritage speakers, it was found that they seemed to have problems with the OPC in the SST. As for the PMT, it was found that heritage speakers and monolinguals of both languages understood the interpretative contrast present with overt and null pronouns within OPC contexts with no significant difference between them.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2016.v7n4S2p176


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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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