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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.

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Results of Experiment 2: (a) Transformed average response scores of the 6 ways of resolving the two reflexives by all participants; (b) Averaged reaction times to the 4 types of questions.The solid line with diamonds denotes the scores and the reaction times of the 1st ziji in the test sentence, and the dashed line with blocks denotes the scores and the reaction times of the 2nd ziji in the test sentence. Each error bar indicates one standard error.
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pone-0073226-g006: Results of Experiment 2: (a) Transformed average response scores of the 6 ways of resolving the two reflexives by all participants; (b) Averaged reaction times to the 4 types of questions.The solid line with diamonds denotes the scores and the reaction times of the 1st ziji in the test sentence, and the dashed line with blocks denotes the scores and the reaction times of the 2nd ziji in the test sentence. Each error bar indicates one standard error.

Mentions: The ANOVA test revealed a significant main effect of the antecedent factor on the responses (F(1,363, 25.904) = 13.118, p<.0005, η2 = .355), but no other significant main effects or interactions. The non-significance of the voice of the questions showed that the ways of asking the questions did not affect the judgments made by the participants. Figure 6(a) shows the average response scores. A post-hoc analysis confirmed that the chance of associating both zijis with the 3rd subject was significantly higher than that of associating them with the 1st (p<.001) or 2nd (p<.012) subject. There was no significant difference between the responses to the 1st and 2nd subjects. Like Experiment 1, these results indicated that most participants tended to associate both zijis with the same antecedent, i.e. the 3rd subject in the test sentences. Nonetheless, there were four participants who occasionally associated the two zijis with distinct antecedents in some sentences, which was distinct from the general pattern.


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)

Results of Experiment 2: (a) Transformed average response scores of the 6 ways of resolving the two reflexives by all participants; (b) Averaged reaction times to the 4 types of questions.The solid line with diamonds denotes the scores and the reaction times of the 1st ziji in the test sentence, and the dashed line with blocks denotes the scores and the reaction times of the 2nd ziji in the test sentence. Each error bar indicates one standard error.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

pone-0073226-g006: Results of Experiment 2: (a) Transformed average response scores of the 6 ways of resolving the two reflexives by all participants; (b) Averaged reaction times to the 4 types of questions.The solid line with diamonds denotes the scores and the reaction times of the 1st ziji in the test sentence, and the dashed line with blocks denotes the scores and the reaction times of the 2nd ziji in the test sentence. Each error bar indicates one standard error.
Mentions: The ANOVA test revealed a significant main effect of the antecedent factor on the responses (F(1,363, 25.904) = 13.118, p<.0005, η2 = .355), but no other significant main effects or interactions. The non-significance of the voice of the questions showed that the ways of asking the questions did not affect the judgments made by the participants. Figure 6(a) shows the average response scores. A post-hoc analysis confirmed that the chance of associating both zijis with the 3rd subject was significantly higher than that of associating them with the 1st (p<.001) or 2nd (p<.012) subject. There was no significant difference between the responses to the 1st and 2nd subjects. Like Experiment 1, these results indicated that most participants tended to associate both zijis with the same antecedent, i.e. the 3rd subject in the test sentences. Nonetheless, there were four participants who occasionally associated the two zijis with distinct antecedents in some sentences, which was distinct from the general pattern.

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
Related in: MedlinePlus