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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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Response scores of inconsistent participants in Experiments 1 and 2: (a) Average response scores to the 6 ways of resolving the two reflexives by the 10 inconsistent participants in Experiment 1; (b) Transformed average response scores to the 6 ways of resolving the two reflexives by the 4 inconsistent participants in Experiment 2; (c) Transformed average response scores to the 6 ways of resolving the two reflexives by the 3 of the 4 inconsistent participants in Experiment 2.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-g007: Response scores of inconsistent participants in Experiments 1 and 2: (a) Average response scores to the 6 ways of resolving the two reflexives by the 10 inconsistent participants in Experiment 1; (b) Transformed average response scores to the 6 ways of resolving the two reflexives by the 4 inconsistent participants in Experiment 2; (c) Transformed average response scores to the 6 ways of resolving the two reflexives by the 3 of the 4 inconsistent participants in Experiment 2.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: Figure 7(a) and Figure 7(b) respectively show the average response scores of the inconsistent participants in the two experiments (ten in Experiment 1 and four in Experiment 2). In addition, three out of the four inconsistent participants in Experiment 2 had rather similar response scores, but their scores were quite distinct from the other one, especially in associating the second ziji. Noting this, Figure 7(c) further shows the average response scores of these 3 inconsistent participants in Experiment 2. As shown in these figures, these inconsistent participants could select any of the three subjects as the potential antecedents for the two zijis. Nonetheless, they tended to select the 3rd subject as the antecedent for the 1st ziji (53% among the 10 inconsistent speakers in Experiment 1 and 61% among the 4 inconsistent speakers in Experiment 2). This, to some degree, also demonstrated the effect of local binding. In addition, when checking the actual associations of these participants, we found that once the 2nd subject, namely a potential long-distance binder in HLL, was already chosen as one antecedent for one ziji, the 1st subject was also chosen as the other antecedent for the other ziji. This unambiguously invalidates HLL’s claim that a 3rd-person NP can induce blocking if it is itself a long-distance binder, because there should be no principle whatsoever to account for the mixed readings in our experiments.


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)

Response scores of inconsistent participants in Experiments 1 and 2: (a) Average response scores to the 6 ways of resolving the two reflexives by the 10 inconsistent participants in Experiment 1; (b) Transformed average response scores to the 6 ways of resolving the two reflexives by the 4 inconsistent participants in Experiment 2; (c) Transformed average response scores to the 6 ways of resolving the two reflexives by the 3 of the 4 inconsistent participants in Experiment 2.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-g007: Response scores of inconsistent participants in Experiments 1 and 2: (a) Average response scores to the 6 ways of resolving the two reflexives by the 10 inconsistent participants in Experiment 1; (b) Transformed average response scores to the 6 ways of resolving the two reflexives by the 4 inconsistent participants in Experiment 2; (c) Transformed average response scores to the 6 ways of resolving the two reflexives by the 3 of the 4 inconsistent participants in Experiment 2.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: Figure 7(a) and Figure 7(b) respectively show the average response scores of the inconsistent participants in the two experiments (ten in Experiment 1 and four in Experiment 2). In addition, three out of the four inconsistent participants in Experiment 2 had rather similar response scores, but their scores were quite distinct from the other one, especially in associating the second ziji. Noting this, Figure 7(c) further shows the average response scores of these 3 inconsistent participants in Experiment 2. As shown in these figures, these inconsistent participants could select any of the three subjects as the potential antecedents for the two zijis. Nonetheless, they tended to select the 3rd subject as the antecedent for the 1st ziji (53% among the 10 inconsistent speakers in Experiment 1 and 61% among the 4 inconsistent speakers in Experiment 2). This, to some degree, also demonstrated the effect of local binding. In addition, when checking the actual associations of these participants, we found that once the 2nd subject, namely a potential long-distance binder in HLL, was already chosen as one antecedent for one ziji, the 1st subject was also chosen as the other antecedent for the other ziji. This unambiguously invalidates HLL’s claim that a 3rd-person NP can induce blocking if it is itself a long-distance binder, because there should be no principle whatsoever to account for the mixed readings in our experiments.

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