Edinburgh Research Archive >
Informatics, School of >
Informatics thesis and dissertation collection >
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
|Title: ||The Production of Different Word Orders: A Psycholinguistic and Developmental Approach|
|Authors: ||Sala, Merce P|
|Supervisor(s): ||Shillcock, Richard|
|Issue Date: ||Jul-1998|
|Publisher: ||University of Edinburgh. College of Science and Engineering. School of Informatics.|
|Abstract: ||This thesis is primarily concerned with language production. In particular it investigates
two issues: First, it explores some of the processing mechanisms underlying the
production of different syntactic structures and word orders. Second, it explores the
production of different syntactic structures and word order from a developmental perspective.
These two issues are investigated experimentally and from a cross-linguistic
point of view.
First, a description is given of the possible word order permutations that Catalan allows
and under which circumstances these word orders are produced. This is extended with
a corpus analysis of spoken Catalan. The aim of this study is twofold: on the one hand,
it aims to present the different positions where subjects and complements of the verb
can appear in a sentence. On the other, it aims to compare the use of passivization
between spoken and newspaper text in Catalan.
Second, my experimental work in language production in four languages is presented.
These languages include English, Brazilian Portuguese, Catalan and Spanish. The main
aim of this study is to explore the effects of the non-linguistic factors of animacy and frequency
upon the production of different word orders. The results of four experiments
in the four languages mentioned yield evidence that these non-linguistic factors affect
the on-line processing of language production. In the four languages, participants tend
to prefer to produce syntactic structures which allow animate entities to be realised as
the sentential subject, even if this means producing a passive structure rather than a
(usually preferred) active structure. I have also found evidence that in some languages
(e.g. Catalan and Spanish) animate/frequent entities appear at initial sentence position
in the grammatical category of object (in dislocated active constructions). These results
are explained on the light of some of the models of language production (e.g. Bock
1987a; Bock and Levelt 1994).
Third, further cross-linguistic experiments in three languages (English, Catalan and
Spanish) are presented. There I show that one particular contextual factor, discourse
salience, can also affect the realisation of different syntactic structures during production.
Entities which have been made more salient by the preceding context are more
likely to appear as sentential subjects or in early sentential positions than entities which
have also been introduced in previous discourse but are less salient. I suggest that these
effects can be explained using the same mechanisms that explain other non-linguistic
factors (e.g. animacy). The results also suggest that in the absence of context, animacy
is a strong determinant of syntactic structure and word order, whereas in context, discourse
salience may largely override animacy effects. Finally, these results suggest that
from a processing point of view, the Given/New partition is not enough to account for
the information structure of a sentence, but a more fine-grained distinction is need, in
keeping with some recent pragmatic theories (e.g. Prince 1981, 1992; Sgall et al. 1986).
Finally, I investigate the production of different word orders from a developmental
point of view. In particular I examine the relationship between age and the production
of different word orders by Catalan children, ranging from 4;11 to 11;11 years. The
results of an experiment run with these children show that a dislocated active is a construction
already consolidated at age 5. In contrast, the passive clause is a construction still not fully acquired at age 11. These results seem to suggest that for Catalan children,
a dislocated active is a syntactic structure that is available earlier than the passive
structure. Conversely, the placement of a patient in subject position and the creation
of a verbal passive voice occurs later than simple word order permutation. Finally, a
comparison between these results and existing results from English children shows that
there are cross-linguistic differences on the age of production of passive clauses: while
English children already produce passives at age 5, Catalan children start producing
passives at age 11. I suggest some possible explanations for the cross-linguistic differences
in the production of different syntactic structures.
Overall, the main aim for this study is to gain insight into the production of different
syntactic structures and word orders from a psycholinguistic and developmental point
|Description: ||Institute for Communicating and Collaborative Systems|
award number R00429434261
|Sponsor(s): ||Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)|
|Appears in Collections:||Informatics thesis and dissertation collection|
Items in ERA are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.