Processing Null and Overt Pronouns in Persian

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Professor of Applied Linguistics, University of Tehran

2 Ph.D. Candidate in Applied Linguistics, Kharazmi University


‌‌‌This study examined the processing of null and overt pronouns by Persian speaking monolinguals. Different theories have been suggested for the interpretation of these pronouns. The “Position of Antecedent” hypothesis predicts that the processor prefers the antecedent in the IP position for the null pronoun; however, the antecedent in the lower positions in the structure is preferred for the overt pronouns. The other theory, “Recency Principle”, predicts that the processor attempts to find the reference for the pronoun as immediately as possible; thus, the parser will select the very first antecedent which matches the pronoun. To examine Persian speaking monolinguals’ processing of these pronouns, 18 sentences including a matrix and a subordinate clause which included an overt or a null pronoun were developed. The overt or the null pronouns either preceded or followed the antecedent or were located between the two antecedents. The participants read each sentence which appeared on the monitor accompanied by three pictures each of which represented a different interpretation of the pronoun. The results showed that, irrespective of the position of the subordinate clause and the type of pronoun, the predictions of the “Position of Antecedent” hypothesis are true unless the sentence has a marked structure.


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Volume 7, Issue 2
January 2017
Pages 97-115
  • Receive Date: 23 May 2016
  • Revise Date: 21 June 2016
  • Accept Date: 21 November 2016
  • First Publish Date: 21 November 2016