Weg met de spreker-luisteraar | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 18, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1384-5845
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1171


Traditionally, in formal linguistics no distinction is made between the roles of the speaker and the listener when investigating the properties of the grammar. Rather, it is assumed that these roles can be merged into a combined speaker-listener role. In this paper I discuss the so-called Delay of Principle B Effect in language acquisition. This effect has been observed in English-speaking and Dutch-speaking children’s comprehension of pronouns in binding environments, but not in their production of these pronouns. On the basis of this asymmetry between production and comprehension, I argue that for an adequate description and explanation of grammatical phenomena such as pronominal binding it is necessary to distinguish between the role and perspective of the speaker and that of the listener. Whereas Principle A of Binding Theory is a symmetric correspondence between a reflexive form and a reflexive meaning that is used similarly by speakers and listeners, Principle B is a derived pattern emerging when the listener takes into account the perspective of the speaker. The Delay of Principle B Effect is thus explained as children’s failure as a listener to consider the perspective of the speaker.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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