Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis




Experimental Psychology

First Advisor

Amit Almor


Information structure and grammatical constraints are known to affect the salience of discourse referents and referential processing, but it is not clear whether the two types of constraints have comparable effects. We report two visual-world experiments that contrasted the effect of a grammatical constraint (subjecthood) and the effect of an information structure constraint (fronting) on processing noun and pronoun anaphors. Experiment 1 tested whether fronting a non-subject referent can eliminate the Repeated Name Penalty (RNP; Gordon et al., 1993) when referring to the subject. Experiment 2 tested whether fronting a non-subject referent can elicit the RNP. The results show that fronting can eliminate the RNP and also elicit an effect that is similar but not identical to the RNP. Overall, this study shows that information structure constraints and grammatical constraints can have comparable effects on reference processing but these effects are not identical in their magnitude and specific time course. More generally, this study shows that pronouns and nouns are not processed in a complementary fashion, and that the RNP is not a single simple effect, but might instead be a family of related effects that occur in different time frames


© 2013, Evgenia Borshchevskaya

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