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LINGUIST List 20.2783

Sun Aug 16 2009

Diss: Psycholing/Syntax: Francom: 'Experimental Syntax: Exploring...'

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        1.    Jerid Francom, Experimental Syntax: Exploring the effect of repeated exposure to anomalous syntactic structure --evidence from rating and reading tasks

Message 1: Experimental Syntax: Exploring the effect of repeated exposure to anomalous syntactic structure --evidence from rating and reading tasks
Date: 16-Aug-2009
From: Jerid Francom <francojcwfu.edu>
Subject: Experimental Syntax: Exploring the effect of repeated exposure to anomalous syntactic structure --evidence from rating and reading tasks
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Institution: University of Arizona
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2009

Author: Jerid Cole Francom

Dissertation Title: Experimental Syntax: Exploring the effect of repeated exposure to anomalous syntactic structure --evidence from rating and reading tasks

Dissertation URL: http://www.wfu.edu/~francojc/publications/pdf/Francom.pdf

Linguistic Field(s): Psycholinguistics
                            Syntax

Subject Language(s): English (eng)

Dissertation Director:
Kenneth I. Forster
Michael Hammond
Janet Nicol
Andrew Barss
Simin Karimi

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis explores the nature of linguistic introspection through the
phenomenon known in the literature as the Syntactic Satiation Effect, where
the perceived unacceptability of some syntactic structures is attenuated on
repeated exposure. Recent findings suggest that rating change in
experimental settings may not reveal the underlying grammatical status of
syntactic objects by mitigating performance factors related to memory
limitations, as initially proposed, but rather arise as a response bias
conditioned by characteristics of some experimental designs, in effect
introducing task-based performance factors. Findings from rating and
reading times suggest that there is evidence supporting both accounts of
rating change in experimental designs and highlights areas of development
for the Experimental Syntax program.

Exploring anecdotal reports, Snyder (2000) found that in as few as five
exposures, participants found some types of wh-extraction anomaly ('weak
Islands') significantly more acceptable at the end of the session compared
to the beginning whereas others ('strong Islands') did not experience any
rating improvement. Varied success in replicating initial results casts
doubts on the proposal that rating data, experimentally elicited, can tease
apart grammatical from performance sources of unacceptability. Sprouse
(2009) suggests an alternative --Satiation arises as an artifact of a
disproportionate number of ungrammatical to grammatical sentences in the
testing session. This approach provides an explanation for the apparent
mismatch in findings, but also highlights issues regarding the advances of
experimental syntax: do experimental methods provide better data or do
aspects of some designs systematically introduce extraneous influences
themselves?

Evidence from three rating and two self-paced reading tasks suggests that
although robust evidence supporting the memory-based claim is not found,
evidence that Satiation is strictly task-based is not substantiated either;
sentences that satiate are similar across experiments. A novel observation
is made that satiating sentences are also more readily interpretable than
non-satiating sentences --providing some explanation for the apparent
mismatch between Satiation studies, and also points to another source of
variability associated with experimental approaches to linguistic
intuition. In sum, evidence here underlines the composite nature of
introspection, points areas of refinement for experimental techniques and
advocates for the adoption of cross-methodological procedures to enhance
syntactic investigation.



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