Center for Language Research

University of Rijeka, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Pronoun Processing in Italian

Posted on 21/10/2015

Principal Investigator: Tihana Kraš


This three-year project funded by the University of Rijeka investigates the processing of Italian subject pronouns in native speakers and proficient non-native speakers whose native language is English. In English, subject pronouns need to be overtly expressed (She writes), while in Italian, they can be either expressed, i.e. overt (Lei scrive), or omitted, i.e. null (Ø Scrive). According to Carminati (2002), in intra-sentential contexts in Italian, the null pronoun typically refers to the subject antecedent, while the overt pronoun typically refers to a non-subject antecedent. By means of the eye-tracking technique the project aims to establish if the two groups of speakers obey this principle during the processing of Italian subject pronouns in sentences in which the pronoun follows its potential antecedents (forward anaphora) and in sentences in which the pronoun precedes its potential antecedents (backward anaphora). Another aim is to determine if the English native speakers’ processing of Italian subject pronouns depends on their proficiency in Italian. Finally, the project aims to explore how the two groups of speakers process reflexive pronouns and relative clauses in Italian. The project is led by Dr Tihana Kraš, and other project team members are Prof. Antonella Sorace and Dr Patrick Sturt from the University of Edinburgh, Dr Maja Miličević from the University of Belgrade, and Ana Bratulić and Siniša Smiljanić from the University of Rijeka.


Carminati, M. N. (2002). The processing of Italian subject pronouns. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

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