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Integration of syntactic and semantic information in predictive processing: Cross-linguistic evidence from German and English

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Publication details

JournalJournal of psycholinguistic research
DatePublished - Jan 2003
Issue number1
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)37-55
Original languageEnglish


Two visual-world eyetracking experiments were conducted to investigate whether, how, and when syntactic and semantic constraints are integrated and used to predict properties of subsequent input. Experiment 1 contrasted auditory German constructions such as, "The hare-nominative eats . . . (the cabbage-acc)" versus "The hare-accusative eats . . . (the fox-nom)," presented with a picture containing a hare, fox, cabbage, and distractor. We found that the probabilities of the eye movements to the cabbage and fox before the onset of NP2 were modulated by the case-marking of NP1, indicating that the case-marking (syntactic) information and verbs' semantic constraints are integrated rapidly enough to predict the most plausible NP2 in the scene. Using English versions of the same stimuli in active/passive voice (Experiment 2), we replicated the same effect, but at a slightly earlier position in the sentence. We discuss the discrepancies in the two Germanic languages in terms of the ease of integrating information across, or within, constituents.

    Research areas

  • sentence processing, anticipatory eye movements, visual-world paradigm, prediction, Germanic languages, SPOKEN LANGUAGE COMPREHENSION, SACCADIC EYE-MOVEMENTS, ATTENTION, AMBIGUITY, RESOLUTION, CONTEXT

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