Pronoun of laziness

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Pronoun of laziness is a pronoun which is only partially co-referential with an antecedent.


If the sentence John gave his hat to me, but Bill gave it to Sarah is intended to mean that I got John's hat and Sarah Bill's hat, the pronoun it does not have the same (intended) referent as his hat, and thus is only 'lazily' co-referential with the full NP. If one takes the sentence to have a logical form like [John:x [x gave [x's hat] to me ] and [Bill:y gave [y's hat] to Sarah] with his a bound variable, it can be taken to be a copy of its antecedent (x's hat), rather than being co-referential with it. Full implementation of this analysis by means of lambda-abstraction is, however, more involved.


Utrecht Lexicon of Linguistics


  • Haik, I. 1986. Pronouns of Laziness, in: S. Berman et al (eds.) NELS 16, 197-216, U.Mass. Amherst.
  • Partee, B.H. 1978. Bound Variables and other Anaphors, in:D. Waltz (ed.) Proceedings of TINLAP 2, 79-85, .