Sentence Processing at the Interfaces – Dependency Relations Across Levels of Representation

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Title: Sentence Processing at the Interfaces – Dependency Relations Across Levels of Representation
Authors: Schwab, Juliane
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Thesis advisor: Prof. Dr. Mingya Liu
Thesis referee: Prof. Dr. Jutta Mueller
Abstract: One of the hallmark features of language is that linguistic elements (from morphemes to words and phrases) commonly relate to each other, thus instantiating a dependency relation between different parts of the linguistic input. Within psycholinguistics, key questions have been how comprehenders keep track of such dependencies and what (top-down and bottom-up) cognitive mechanisms are engaged during the resolution of dependency relations. In this thesis, I investigate the processing and comprehension of three different types of dependency relations for a state-of-the-art perspective onto the shared, and the unique, mechanisms engaged to resolve linguistic dependency relations. The thesis has two major components: In its first part, focusing on expectation-based processing mechanisms, it provides novel empirical evidence for the engagement of expectations in adults’ processing of dependencies at various levels of linguistic representation—from the syntactic dependency between German determiners and relative clauses to the discourse-level dependency relation in concessive discourse relations. In its second part, focused on the particular dependency relation between polarity sensitive expressions and their (anti-)licenser, the thesis combines theoretical and empirical linguistic perspectives to illuminate the mechanisms involved in the licensing, comprehension, processing, and acquisition of polarity sensitive expressions. Therein, the included studies demonstrate comprehenders’ immediate sensitivity to semantic and pragmatic properties of the sentential contexts in which negative polarity items appear, and attest to dependency-specific memory effects in adults’ processing and comprehension. From the developmental perspective, these findings are complemented by a study showing that the acquisition of polarity sensitive expressions extends at least into early adolescence, with substantial variation that may be due to pragmatic development and input-related differences. The combined findings from both sections of this thesis have impact on linguistic theory and psycholinguistics alike.
Subject Keywords: Linguistics; Psycholinguistics; Cognitive Science
Issue Date: 12-Dec-2022
License name: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Germany
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Type of publication: Dissertation oder Habilitation [doctoralThesis]
Appears in Collections:FB08 - E-Dissertationen

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