Alignment between Thematic Roles and Grammatical Functions Facilitates Sentence Processing: Evidence from Experiencer Verbs
Michael Wilson, Brian Dillon
October 2023

How does grammatical markedness affect processing? Previous work has studied this extensively in the domain of experiencer verbs, by examining the question of alignment between thematic role and grammatical function hierarchies. Existing evidence is consistent with multiple accounts, including an experiencer-first preference or an experiencer-subject preference. We conducted two experiments to disentangle these effects for experiencer verbs, using self-paced reading with comprehension questions and speeded grammaticality judgments. Our results revealed a clear experiencer-subject preference, and no experiencer-first preference in the processing of English. These results are most consistent with a view where grammatical constraints cannot be reduced to more general cognitive constraints.
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Reference: lingbuzz/006832
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keywords: sentence processing, self-paced reading, thematic relations, argument structure, lexical semantics, bayesian data analysis
previous versions: v3 [October 2022]
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