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Linguistic Inquiry

Summer 2005, Vol. 36, No. 3, Pages 333-365
(doi: 10.1162/0024389054396908)
© 2005 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
On the Acquisition of Principle B
Article PDF (145.78 KB)

Chien and Wexler (1990) reported that children obeyed Principle B of binding theory when the antecedent was a quantifier but not when the antecedent was referential. This was argued by Grodzinsky and Reinhart (1993) to support Reinhart's (1983) theory according to which Principle B affects only bound pronouns. Since then, other studies have supported the asymmetry between referential and quantifier antecedents. This article, however, argues that previously unremarked experimental factors lessen the force of all these studies, and it points to other relevant experiments that seem to showthat children do not obey Principle B at all. It reviews previously offered theories on the acquisition of Principle B that are compatible with the latter view of the facts.