ERIC Number: ED268819
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-Aug
Reference Count: 0
On the Relationship between the Language of Natural Discourse and the Language of Logic: The Interpretation of Semantically Complex Sentences.
The focus of the study reported here was to investigate people's comprehension ability as a function of the number and type of negations embedded within sentences similar to those which might appear as premises in syllogisms. The subjects were one group of 11 Hispanic and four groups of Anglo students, with 15 in each Anglo group. Thirty-two logically complex sentences containing one, two, or three negations each and certain consistent elements (quantifiers, groups of similar objects, verb, etc.) were constructed, with four or five possible answer sentences corresponding to each sentence. Four sets of sentences were constructed, each containing the 32 basic sentences with portions of the sentences in different positions. One set was administered to the Hispanic group and to one of the Anglo groups; the other three sentence sets were administered to the other three Anglo groups. The subjects were to read the complex sentences and choose a less complex sentence that most closely corresponded to the meaning in the complex sentence. The results indicated that the subjects comprehended best the sentences with discrete rather than continuous descriptive information, and that sentences containing three negations were not well understood. The only difference between the Anglo and Hispanic groups was in the latency of response, a fact possibly explained by their acquisition of English as a first or second language. Possible explanations for the overall and specific findings are examined. (MSE)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Education (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Harvard Conference on Thinking (Cambridge, MA, August 19-23, 1984).