Effects of antecedent order and semantic context on Chinese pronoun resolution

Hsuan-Chih CHEN, Him CHEUNG, Siu Lam TANG, Yuk Tak WONG

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19 Citations (Scopus)


Three reading time experiments were conducted in order to examine the relative contributions of order of antecedents and semantic context to the resolution of temporarily ambiguous Chinese pronouns. These pronouns were ambiguous because each of them was preceded by two antecedents, both of which were likely candidates for coreference. The identity of the pronoun was revealed by subsequent disambiguating information that constrained the pronoun to one particular interpretation. Experiment 1 showed that reading of the disambiguating phrase was slower when the phrase confined the pronoun to the second rather than to the first antecedent. Experiment 2 produced the same effect of antecedent order (first vs. second antecedent) regardless of whether the target antecedent was an action-performing or an action-receiving entity. In Experiment 3, the order effect was eliminated by a biasing modifier inserted immediately before the pronoun. These results indicate that in a semantically neutral environment, the first-appearing antecedent is the preferred candidate for coreferencing the ambiguous Chinese pronoun. The interaction between order of antecedents and semantic context on the form of preposed biasing modifiers) suggests that the initial comprehension of Chinese pronouns depends as much on contextual as on structural factors. Copyright © 2000 Psychonomic Society, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-438
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2000


Chen, H.-C., Cheung, H., Tang, S. L., & Wong, Y. T. (2000). Effects of antecedent order and semantic context on Chinese pronoun resolution. Memory & Cognition, 28(3), 427–438. doi: 10.3758/BF03198558


  • Reading time
  • Semantic context
  • Target passage
  • Total reading time
  • Pronoun resolution


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