Anaphoric devices in written and spoken narrative discourse

Aurora Bel, Joan Perera, Naymé Salas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, we focus on pronominal anaphora and we investigate the referential properties of null and overt subject pronouns in Catalan, in the semi-spontaneous production of narrative spoken and written texts by three groups of speakers/writers (9–10, 12–13, and 15–16 year olds). We aimed at determining (1) pronoun preferences for a specific type of antecedent; (2) their specialization in a certain discourse function; and (3) whether the pattern is affected by text modality (spoken vs. written texts). We analyzed 30 spoken and 30 written narrative texts, produced by the same 30 subjects, divided into the age groups mentioned above. Results seem fairly consistent across age groups and modalities, showing that null pronouns tend to select antecedents in subject position and are well specialized in maintaining reference, while overt pronouns offer a less clear pattern both in their selection of antecedents and in the discourse function they perform. Our findings partially support those of previous research on other null-subject languages, in particular, the Position of Antecedent Hypothesis (PAH) formulated by Carminati (2002) for Italian.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-259
Number of pages24
JournalWritten Language and Literacy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Anaphora resolution
  • Catalan
  • Discourse anaphora
  • Narrative text
  • Pronouns
  • Spoken modality
  • Written modality


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