Interspeaker variation in the syntactic processing of referential singular they

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-08-02
Identifier: 
etd20512
Keywords: 
Pronoun processing, singular they, gender identiy, experimental syntax
Abstract: 

Singular they is suggested to be acceptable in the grammar only when referring to indefinite or gender-neutral antecedents. Previous studies have used antecedents of varying gender expectation to test whether singular they can refer to antecedents with gender, but no experimental studies have considered the social variables that could affect the acceptability of singular they in speech. The goal of this study is to compare the acceptability and processing of singular referential they between cisgender and non-binary individuals, as people who identify as non-binary tend to use they, them, and their as their pronouns of personal reference. This study shows thats there are no effects of gender-expectancy in on-line processing across cisgender and non-binary individuals. I also show that sentences with singular they are overall more natural to non-binary individuals than cisgender individuals, suggesting that social variables affect off-line judgments, but not on-line processing.

Document type: 
Thesis
Rights: 
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes. Copyright remains with the author.
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Chung-hye Han
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Linguistics
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.
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