Discovering structure: Person and accessibility

Catherine Travis, Rena Torres Cacoullos

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    We probe grammatical person differences comparing 3sg with 1sg in actual language use, utilizing subject pronoun expression in Spanish. We reconfigure the familiar constraint of accessibility to distinguish between clause linking (prosodic and syntactic connectedness) in coreferential contexts and distance from the previous mention (intervening clauses) in non-coreferential contexts. This refinement reveals that accessibility impacts 1sg earlier than 3sg, for which the pronoun rate rises more slowly with increasing distance. At the same time, for pronominal and unexpressed subjects, a greater proportion of 3sg than 1sg occurs in coreferential contexts. 3sg pronominal and unexpressed subjects thus tend to cluster more closely. By these differences in the workings of accessibility and in contextual distribution, unlike speech act participant 1sg, 3sg is a transient person in discourse.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationQuestioning Theoretical Primitives in Linguistic Inquiry: Papers in honor of Ricardo Otheguy
    EditorsNaomi L. Shin and Deniel Erker
    Place of PublicationUnited States
    PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
    ISBN (Print)9789027201676
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


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