NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ785577
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Mar
Pages: 14
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: 42
ISSN: ISSN-0169-0965
Put in Last Position Something Previously Unmentioned: Word Order Effects on Referential Expectancy and Reference Comprehension
Arnold, Jennifer E.; Lao, Shin-Yi C.
Language and Cognitive Processes, v23 n2 p282-295 Mar 2008
Research has shown that the comprehension of definite referring expressions (e.g., "the triangle") tends to be faster for "given" (previously mentioned) referents, compared with new referents. This has been attributed to the presence of given information in the consciousness of discourse participants (e.g., Chafe, 1994) suggesting that given is always more accessible. By contrast, we find a bias toward new referents during the on-line comprehension of the direct object in heavy-NP-shifted word orders, e.g., "Put on the star the...." This order tends to be used for new direct objects; canonical unshifted orders are more common with given direct objects. Thus, word order provides probabilistic information about the givenness or newness of the direct object. Results from eyetracking and gating experiments show that the traditional given bias only occurs with unshifted orders; with heavy-NP-shifted orders, comprehenders expect the object to be new, and comprehension for new referents is facilitated. (Contains 2 figures and 3 tables.)
Psychology Press. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A