Limits...
Who is who? Interpretation of multiple occurrences of the Chinese reflexive: evidence from real-time sentence processing.

Shuai L, Gong T, Wu Y - PLoS ONE (2013)

Bottom Line: The general interpretation patterns observed showed that the majority of participants associated both zijis with the same local antecedent, which was consistent with Principle A of the Standard Binding Theory and previous experimental findings involving a single ziji.In addition, mixed readings also occurred, but did not pattern as claimed in the theoretical linguistic literature (i.e., one ziji is bound by a long-distance antecedent and the other by a local antecedent).Based on these results, we argue that: (i) mixed readings were due to manifold, interlocking and conflicting perspectives taken by the participants; and (ii) cases of multiple occurrences of ziji taking distinct antecedents are illicit in Chinese syntax, since the speaker, when expressing a sentence, can select only one P(erspective)-Center that referentially denotes the psychological perspective in which the sentence is situated.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Massachusetts, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
Theoretical linguists claim that the notorious reflexive ziji 'self' in Mandarin Chinese, if occurring more than once in a single sentence, can take distinct antecedents. This study tackles possibly the most interesting puzzle in the linguistic literature, investigating how two occurrences of ziji in a single sentence are interpreted and whether or not there are mixed readings, i.e., these zijis are interpretively bound by distinct antecedents. Using 15 Chinese sentences each having two zijis, we conducted two sentence reading experiments based on a modified self-paced reading paradigm. The general interpretation patterns observed showed that the majority of participants associated both zijis with the same local antecedent, which was consistent with Principle A of the Standard Binding Theory and previous experimental findings involving a single ziji. In addition, mixed readings also occurred, but did not pattern as claimed in the theoretical linguistic literature (i.e., one ziji is bound by a long-distance antecedent and the other by a local antecedent). Based on these results, we argue that: (i) mixed readings were due to manifold, interlocking and conflicting perspectives taken by the participants; and (ii) cases of multiple occurrences of ziji taking distinct antecedents are illicit in Chinese syntax, since the speaker, when expressing a sentence, can select only one P(erspective)-Center that referentially denotes the psychological perspective in which the sentence is situated.

Show MeSH
Examples of a test sentence (1) with its 6 test questions (a)–(f) and a filler sentence with its 3 questions (g)–(i).For each sentence or question, the first line shows the Roman spelling of this sentence, the second line shows the word gloss, and the third line shows the English translation.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection


getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3760907&req=5

pone-0073226-g003: Examples of a test sentence (1) with its 6 test questions (a)–(f) and a filler sentence with its 3 questions (g)–(i).For each sentence or question, the first line shows the Roman spelling of this sentence, the second line shows the word gloss, and the third line shows the English translation.

Mentions: We constructed 15 test sentences in this experiment (see Figure S1 for the list of all test sentences), each having 2 occurrences of ziji. For each sentence, we designed 6 test questions to detect how the two zijis were associated with the three potential antecedents in the sentence (i.e. the three subjects in the main and embedded clauses of the sentence, which were numbered as the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd subject, among which the 3rd subject is the local antecedent). Figure 3 shows an example of the test sentence (sentence (1)) and its 6 test questions (a)–(f). Apart from test sentences, we also constructed 2 filler sentences, each having one occurrence of ziji. For each filler sentence, we designed 3 questions to test whether or not participants could correctly resolve the unambiguous antecedent of ziji. The purpose of inserting such filler sentences was to detect whether or not participants were actively engaged in the task. Figure 3 also shows an example of the filler sentence (sentence (2)) and its 3 questions (g)–(i). Note that the blanks within a test or filler sentence were used to split the whole sentence into individual words, which appeared one by one when participants pressed the SPACE bar during the self-paced reading. In the actual experiment, the sentences presented on the screen did not contain such blanks.


Who is who? Interpretation of multiple occurrences of the Chinese reflexive: evidence from real-time sentence processing.

Shuai L, Gong T, Wu Y - PLoS ONE (2013)

Examples of a test sentence (1) with its 6 test questions (a)–(f) and a filler sentence with its 3 questions (g)–(i).For each sentence or question, the first line shows the Roman spelling of this sentence, the second line shows the word gloss, and the third line shows the English translation.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3760907&req=5

pone-0073226-g003: Examples of a test sentence (1) with its 6 test questions (a)–(f) and a filler sentence with its 3 questions (g)–(i).For each sentence or question, the first line shows the Roman spelling of this sentence, the second line shows the word gloss, and the third line shows the English translation.
Mentions: We constructed 15 test sentences in this experiment (see Figure S1 for the list of all test sentences), each having 2 occurrences of ziji. For each sentence, we designed 6 test questions to detect how the two zijis were associated with the three potential antecedents in the sentence (i.e. the three subjects in the main and embedded clauses of the sentence, which were numbered as the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd subject, among which the 3rd subject is the local antecedent). Figure 3 shows an example of the test sentence (sentence (1)) and its 6 test questions (a)–(f). Apart from test sentences, we also constructed 2 filler sentences, each having one occurrence of ziji. For each filler sentence, we designed 3 questions to test whether or not participants could correctly resolve the unambiguous antecedent of ziji. The purpose of inserting such filler sentences was to detect whether or not participants were actively engaged in the task. Figure 3 also shows an example of the filler sentence (sentence (2)) and its 3 questions (g)–(i). Note that the blanks within a test or filler sentence were used to split the whole sentence into individual words, which appeared one by one when participants pressed the SPACE bar during the self-paced reading. In the actual experiment, the sentences presented on the screen did not contain such blanks.

Bottom Line: The general interpretation patterns observed showed that the majority of participants associated both zijis with the same local antecedent, which was consistent with Principle A of the Standard Binding Theory and previous experimental findings involving a single ziji.In addition, mixed readings also occurred, but did not pattern as claimed in the theoretical linguistic literature (i.e., one ziji is bound by a long-distance antecedent and the other by a local antecedent).Based on these results, we argue that: (i) mixed readings were due to manifold, interlocking and conflicting perspectives taken by the participants; and (ii) cases of multiple occurrences of ziji taking distinct antecedents are illicit in Chinese syntax, since the speaker, when expressing a sentence, can select only one P(erspective)-Center that referentially denotes the psychological perspective in which the sentence is situated.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Massachusetts, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
Theoretical linguists claim that the notorious reflexive ziji 'self' in Mandarin Chinese, if occurring more than once in a single sentence, can take distinct antecedents. This study tackles possibly the most interesting puzzle in the linguistic literature, investigating how two occurrences of ziji in a single sentence are interpreted and whether or not there are mixed readings, i.e., these zijis are interpretively bound by distinct antecedents. Using 15 Chinese sentences each having two zijis, we conducted two sentence reading experiments based on a modified self-paced reading paradigm. The general interpretation patterns observed showed that the majority of participants associated both zijis with the same local antecedent, which was consistent with Principle A of the Standard Binding Theory and previous experimental findings involving a single ziji. In addition, mixed readings also occurred, but did not pattern as claimed in the theoretical linguistic literature (i.e., one ziji is bound by a long-distance antecedent and the other by a local antecedent). Based on these results, we argue that: (i) mixed readings were due to manifold, interlocking and conflicting perspectives taken by the participants; and (ii) cases of multiple occurrences of ziji taking distinct antecedents are illicit in Chinese syntax, since the speaker, when expressing a sentence, can select only one P(erspective)-Center that referentially denotes the psychological perspective in which the sentence is situated.

Show MeSH