Journal of Child Language


Analysis of pronominal errors: a case-study*

Yuriko Oshima-Takanea1 c1

a1 McGill University


The present paper reports a case-study of a normally developing boy who made pronominal errors for about ten months. Comprehension and production of first- and second-person pronouns were longitudinally examined from 1; 7 to 2; 10 to test three hypotheses concerning pronominal errors: pronominal errors are a result of either (a) semantic confusion, (b) simple imitation, or (c) confusion between self and others. The results showed that the child began using first- and second-person pronouns at about 1; 8 and mastered the correct usage by 2; 10. Consistent errors for the first- and the second-person pronouns were observed from 1; 11 to 2; 4, but proportions of errors occurring in his imitative language were low. The comprehension and production data clearly indicated that the child persistently made pronominal errors due to semantic confusion. That is, first-person pronouns referred to a person with whom the child conversed and second-person pronouns referred to himself.

(Received March 05 1990)

(Revised February 25 1991)


c1 Department of Psychology, McGill University, 1205 Dr Penfield Avenue, Montreal, P.Q., Canada H3A 1B1.


* This research was supported by a Doctoral fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to Yuriko Oshima-Takane, by a McGill University Social Sciences Research Grant to John Macnamara, and by grant No. A6394 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to Yoshio Takane. Preparation of this paper was also supported by a Canada Research Fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to Yuriko Oshima-Takane. A portion of this paper was presented at the 10th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development, Boston, 1985. I thank John Macnamara, Thomas Shultz, Andrew Baker, Elizabeth Cole, Susanne McKenzie and Yoshio Takane for their valuable comments, Christine Liao for her assistance in collecting data, and Anne Marie Horch and Orit Isehayek for their assistance in transcribing audiotapes. Finally, I thank David, his mother and babysitter for their co-operation in this study.