Thomas Hörberg

Language processing in natural discourse: exploring the interplay between language production and comprehension of grammatical functions in short story contexts

In this project, I investigate spoken language processing - production and comprehension of transitive sentences such as (i) ‘Hon vattnar blommorna’. I focus on how the processing of grammatical functions of subject, ‘Hon’ in (i), and object, ‘blommorna’ in (i), is influenced by whether sentences occur in appropriate discourse contexts consisting of short stories. The project consists of three experimental studies that investigate the processing of subject-initial - as (i) - and object-initial - as (ii) ‘Blommorna vattnar hon’ – sentences when they occur in short stories. Study 1 investigates how speakers express transitive events, and whether they more frequently use structurally ambiguous sentences as (ii) when the discourse context may facilitate comprehension. Study 2 investigates whether the discourse context do facilitate comprehension in these cases by measuring processing costs during comprehension of structurally ambiguous sentences as (ii), based on the listener’s brain activity. Using eye-tracking, study 3 investigates whether listeners can predict grammatical functions of structurally ambiguous sentences as (ii), when the sentences occur in facilitating discourse contexts. The project will provide novel insights into the relationship between sentence level- and discourse level- language processing, and the relationship between language production and comprehension. It will also complement earlier tentative findings since it´s using naturalistic experimentation.
Grant administrator
Stockholm University
Reference number
SEK 2,295,000.00
General Language Studies and Linguistics