When do children avoid backwards coreference ?*

Jennifer Ryan Hsu, Helen Smith Cairns, Sarita Eisenberg, Gloria Schlisselberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This study investigated the claim that very young children avoid backwards coreference in their interpretation of sentences containing pronouns. Eighty-one children ranging in age from 3; 1 to 8;o and eight adults acted out four types of pronominal sentences. Cross-sectional data and individual response patterns reveal that children initially. prefer internal coreference even when such a response is disallowed for structural reasons. Avoidance of backwards coreference appears to be a late developing phenomenon characteristic of six-year-olds. Adult response patterns, which are manifested by some very young children, emerge as the dominant pattern by age seven.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-353
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Child Language
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1991


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