Cue validity and sentence interpretation in English, German, and Italian

  • Linguistic and psycholinguistic accounts based on the study of English may prove unreliable as guides to sentence processing in even closely related languages. The present study illustrates this claim in a test of sentence interpretation by German-, Italian-, and English-speaking adults. Subjects were presented with simple transitive sentences in which contrasts of (1) word order, (2) agreement, (3) animacy, and (4) stress were systematically varied. For each sentence, subjects were asked to state which of the two nouns was the actor. The results indicated that Americans relied overwhelming on word order, using a first-noun strategy in NVN and a second-noun strategy in VNN and NNV sentences. Germans relied on both agreement and animacy. Italians showed extreme reliance on agreement cues. In both German and Italian, stress played a role in terms of complex interactions with word order and agreement. The findings were interpreted in terms of the “competition model” of Bates and MacWhinney (in H. Winitz (Ed.), Annals of the New York AcadLinguistic and psycholinguistic accounts based on the study of English may prove unreliable as guides to sentence processing in even closely related languages. The present study illustrates this claim in a test of sentence interpretation by German-, Italian-, and English-speaking adults. Subjects were presented with simple transitive sentences in which contrasts of (1) word order, (2) agreement, (3) animacy, and (4) stress were systematically varied. For each sentence, subjects were asked to state which of the two nouns was the actor. The results indicated that Americans relied overwhelming on word order, using a first-noun strategy in NVN and a second-noun strategy in VNN and NNV sentences. Germans relied on both agreement and animacy. Italians showed extreme reliance on agreement cues. In both German and Italian, stress played a role in terms of complex interactions with word order and agreement. The findings were interpreted in terms of the “competition model” of Bates and MacWhinney (in H. Winitz (Ed.), Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences Conference on Native and Foreign Language Acquisition. New York: New York Academy of Sciences, 1982) in which cue validity is considered to be the primary determinant of cue strength. According to this model, cues are said to be high in validity when they are also high in applicability and reliability.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author:Brian MacWhinney, Elizabeth Bates, Reinhold Kliegl
URN:urn:nbn:de:kobv:517-opus-16847
Series (Serial Number):Postprints der Universität Potsdam : Humanwissenschaftliche Reihe, ISSN 1866-8364 (paper 038)
Document Type:Postprint
Language:English
Date of Publication (online):2008/09/17
Year of Completion:1984
Publishing Institution:Universität Potsdam
Release Date:2008/09/17
Source:Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior. - 23 (1984), 2, pp. 127-150. - ISSN 0022-5371
Organizational units:Humanwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Psychologie
Extern / Extern
Dewey Decimal Classification:1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 15 Psychologie / 150 Psychologie
Licence (German):License LogoKeine Nutzungslizenz vergeben - es gilt das deutsche Urheberrecht
Notes extern:
first published in:
Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior. - 23 (1984), 2, pp. 127-150
ISSN 0022-5371
DOI 10.1016/S0022-5371(84)90093-8