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Naho and Hajime in Language Acquisition with Jeff and Naomi

May 22, 2021 Linguistics

The many features of Naho Orita's PhD (cake)

On initial errors in the acquisition of the Japanese local- or long-distance anaphor "zibun".

Now out in Language Acquisition, "Japanese children's knowledge of the locality of zibun and kare," by alums Naho Orita *15 and Hajime Ono *06, with their former advisors Naomi Feldman and Jeff Lidz. The article finds that, with very sparse evidence across the board, children acquiring Japanese incorrectly reject long-distance antecedents  for zibun, which can also have local ones, despite correctly accepting them for kare, which cannot. This implies, observe the authors, that the problem is not with discourse or long-distance anaphora; instead, it is with either their representation of zibun – perhaps they have wrongly inferred it to be a local anaphor, given the infrequency of long-distance interpretations – or with a non-adult bias, perhaps driven by the greater activation of recent material in working memory, towards local resolution of an anaphor that might also go otherwise.