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The use of pronominal case in English sentence interpretation

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journal contribution
posted on 01.10.2010, 00:00 authored by Yuki Yoshimura, Brian MacwhinneyBrian Macwhinney

This study examined adult English native speakers' processing of sentences in which pronominal case marking conflicts with word order. Previous research has shown that English speakers rely heavily on word order for assigning case roles during sentence interpretation. However, in terms of cue reliability measures, we should expect English pronominal case to be nearly as strong a cue as word order. The current study examined this issue by asking subjects to interpret grammatical and ungrammatical sentences in which case competes with word order. The results indicated that word order remains the strongest cue in English, even when the case-marking cue is available. However, for noncanonical word orders, the case-marking cue had a strong effect on sentence interpretation.


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