What Influences the Referential Properties of Reflexives and Pronouns in Finnish?

  • Elsi Kaiser
  • Jeffrey T. Runner
  • Rachel S. Sussman
  • Michael K. Tanenhaus


According to standard Binding Theory, pronouns and reflexives are in (nearly) complementary distribution. However, representational NPs (e.g. ‘picture of her/herself’) allow both. It has been suggested that in English, reflexives in representational NPs (RNPs) have a preference for ‘sources of  information’ and that pronouns prefer ‘perceivers of information.’ We conducted two experiments investigating the effects of structural and non-structural (source/perceiver) factors on the interpretation of two kinds of RNP structures in a typologically different language, namely Finnish. Our results reveal source/perceiver effects for postnominal but not for prenominal RNPs in Finnish, with a difference in the degree of sensitivity that pronouns and reflexives exhibit to the source/perceiver manipulation, and our results also suggest that morphological differences in Finnish reflexives correspond to interpretation differences. As a whole, these results support a multiple-factor model of reference resolution, which assumes that multiple factors can play a role in reference resolution and that the relative contributions of these factors can be different for different anaphoric forms (Kaiser 2003b, Kaiser & Trueswell in press).
How to Cite
Kaiser, E., Runner, J. T., Sussman, R. S., & Tanenhaus, M. K. (2019). What Influences the Referential Properties of Reflexives and Pronouns in Finnish?. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 10(1), 155-170. https://doi.org/10.18148/sub/2006.v10i1.681