ERIC Number: EJ851467
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005-May
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
Interface Problems: Structural Constraints on Interpretation?
Frazier, Lyn; Clifton, Charles; Rayner, Keith; Deevy, Patricia; Koh, Sungryong; Bader, Markus
Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, v34 n3 p201-231 May 2005
Five experiments investigated the interpretation of quantified noun phrases in relation to discourse structure. They demonstrated, using questionnaire and on-line reading techniques, that readers in English prefer to give a quantified noun phrase in (VP-external) subject position a presuppositional interpretation, in which the noun phrase limits or restricts the interpretation of an already available set, rather than giving it a nonpresuppositional or existential interpretation, in which it introduces completely new entities into the discourse. Experiment 1 showed that readers prefer a presuppositional interpretation of three ships over the existential interpretation in Five ships appeared on the horizon. Three ships sank. Experiment 2 showed longer reading times in sentences that are disambiguated toward the existential interpretation than in sentences that permit the presuppositional interpretation. Experiment 3 suggested that the presuppositional preference is greater when the phrase three ships occurs outside the verb phrase than when it occurs inside the verb phrase. Experiment 4 showed that Korean subjects marked with a topic marker received more presuppositional interpretations than subjects marked with a nominative marker. Experiment 5 showed that German subjects in VP-external (but nontopic) position received more presuppositional interpretations than VP-internal subjects. The results suggest the syntactic position of a phrase is one determinant of its interpretation, as expected according to the mapping hypothesis of Diesing (1992).
Descriptors: Language Patterns, Sentences, Verbs, Nouns, Text Structure, Discourse Analysis, English, Experiments, Syntax, Reading, Internet, Evaluation Methods, Questionnaires, Language Processing, Korean, German
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
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