Lanaguage Research
Language Education Institute, Seoul National University

Binding Conditions of English Reflexives and Pronouns in the ICE-USA

Ji-Hye Kim1,, Soojin An2, Ahreum Jung1
Corresponding Author: Professor Department of English Education Korea National University of Education 250 Taeseongtapyeon-ro, Heungduk-gu, Cheongju 28173, Korea E-mail:

ⓒ Copyright 2020 Language Education Institute, Seoul National University. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Received: Jul 04, 2020 ; Revised: Aug 07, 2020 ; Accepted: Oct 29, 2020

Published Online: Dec 31, 2020


This study investigates how the syntactic and pragmatic conditions on the distributions of English reflexives and pronouns are reflected in the International Corpus of English (ICE)–USA corpus. The study attempted to compare different theoretical approaches to binding phenomena – Standard Binding Theory (SBT), HPSG-based Binding Theory and Logophoricity theory – in their predictions. 1,500 English sentences were extracted from ICE-USA corpus to be encoded with 8 syntactic-pragmatic factors related to the binding conditions of reflexives/pronouns. The results demonstrated the following: i) English reflexives and pronouns were mostly in complementary distribution; ii) English reflexives showed apparent cases of LD-exempt/discourse binding; iii) Structural constraints such as c-command and binding domain were rarely violated with reflexives having sentential antecedents; iv) Outside the syntactic domain, proper logophoric conditions for licensing the LD-reflexives were observed. The results call for incorporation of discourse-pragmatic analysis with syntactic approaches to explain various binding phenomena.

Keywords: binding theory; reflexive; anaphor; pronoun; pronominal; ICE-USA corpus; binding in American English



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