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Dependency Resolution Difficulty Increases with Distance in Persian Separable Complex Predicates

  • Delaying the appearance of a verb in a noun-verb dependency tends to increase processing difficulty at the verb; one explanation for this locality effect is decay and/or interference of the noun in working memory. Surprisal, an expectation-based account, predicts that delaying the appearance of a verb either renders it no more predictable or more predictable, leading respectively to a prediction of no effect of distance or a facilitation. Recently, Husain et al. (2014) suggested that when the exact identity of the upcoming verb is predictable (strong predictability), increasing argument-verb distance leads to facilitation effects, which is consistent with surprisal; but when the exact identity of the upcoming verb is not predictable (weak predictability), locality effects are seen. We investigated Husain et al.'s proposal using Persian complex predicates (CPs), which consist of a non-verbal element—a noun in the current study—and a verb. In CPs, once the noun has been read, the exact identity of the verb is highly predictable (strongDelaying the appearance of a verb in a noun-verb dependency tends to increase processing difficulty at the verb; one explanation for this locality effect is decay and/or interference of the noun in working memory. Surprisal, an expectation-based account, predicts that delaying the appearance of a verb either renders it no more predictable or more predictable, leading respectively to a prediction of no effect of distance or a facilitation. Recently, Husain et al. (2014) suggested that when the exact identity of the upcoming verb is predictable (strong predictability), increasing argument-verb distance leads to facilitation effects, which is consistent with surprisal; but when the exact identity of the upcoming verb is not predictable (weak predictability), locality effects are seen. We investigated Husain et al.'s proposal using Persian complex predicates (CPs), which consist of a non-verbal element—a noun in the current study—and a verb. In CPs, once the noun has been read, the exact identity of the verb is highly predictable (strong predictability); this was confirmed using a sentence completion study. In two self-paced reading (SPR) and two eye-tracking (ET) experiments, we delayed the appearance of the verb by interposing a relative clause (Experiments 1 and 3) or a long PP (Experiments 2 and 4). We also included a simple Noun-Verb predicate configuration with the same distance manipulation; here, the exact identity of the verb was not predictable (weak predictability). Thus, the design crossed Predictability Strength and Distance. We found that, consistent with surprisal, the verb in the strong predictability conditions was read faster than in the weak predictability conditions. Furthermore, greater verb-argument distance led to slower reading times; strong predictability did not neutralize or attenuate the locality effects. As regards the effect of distance on dependency resolution difficulty, these four experiments present evidence in favor of working memory accounts of argument-verb dependency resolution, and against the surprisal-based expectation account of Levy (2008). However, another expectation-based measure, entropy, which was computed using the offline sentence completion data, predicts reading times in Experiment 1 but not in the other experiments. Because participants tend to produce more ungrammatical continuations in the long-distance condition in Experiment 1, we suggest that forgetting due to memory overload leads to greater entropy at the verb.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author:Molood S. Safavi, Samar Husain, Shravan VasishthORCiDGND
URN:urn:nbn:de:kobv:517-opus4-90728
Subtitle (English):Evidence for Expectation and Memory-Based Accounts
Series (Serial Number):Postprints der Universität Potsdam : Humanwissenschaftliche Reihe (290)
Document Type:Postprint
Language:English
Year of first Publication:2016
Year of Completion:2016
Publishing Institution:Universität Potsdam
Release Date:2016/05/17
Tag:Persian; complex predicates; entropy; expectation; eye-tracking; locality; self-paced reading; surprisal
First Page:1
Last Page:15
Funder:Universität Potsdam, Publikationsfonds
Grant Number:PA 2016_12
Organizational units:Humanwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Strukturbereich Kognitionswissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 15 Psychologie / 150 Psychologie
Peer Review:Referiert
Publication Way:Open Access
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung, 4.0 International
Notes extern:Bibliographieeintrag der Originalveröffentlichung/Quelle