Japanese children’s knowledge of the locality of zibun and kare

Naho Orita*, Hajime Ono, Naomi H. Feldman, Jeffrey Lidz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Although the Japanese reflexive zibun can be bound both locally and across clause boundaries, the third-person pronoun kare cannot take a local antecedent. These are properties that children need to learn about their language, but we show that the direct evidence of the binding possibilities of zibun is sparse and the evidence of kare is absent in speech to children, leading us to ask about children’s knowledge. We show that children, unlike adults, incorrectly reject the long-distance antecedent for zibun, and while being able to access this antecedent for a non-local pronoun kare, they consistently reject the local antecedent for this pronoun. These results suggest that children’s lack of matrix readings for zibun is not due to their understanding of discourse context but the properties of their language understanding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-343
Number of pages17
JournalLanguage Acquisition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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