The present research investigated the attraction phenomenon, which commonly occurs in the domain of production but is also apparent in comprehension. It particularly focused on its accessibility to conceptual influence, in analogy to previous findings in production in Hebrew (Deutsch and Dank, J Mem Lang, 60:112–143, 2009). The experiments made use of the contrast between grammatical and natural gender in Hebrew, using complex subject noun phrases containing head nouns and prepositional phrases with local nouns. Noun phrases were manipulated to produce (a) matches and mismatches in grammatical gender between heads and local nouns; and (b) inanimate nouns and animate nouns with natural gender that served either as head or as local nouns. These noun phrases were the subjects of sentences that ended with predicates agreeing in gender with the head noun, with the local noun, or both. The ungrammatical sentences were those in which the gender of the predicate and the head noun did not match. To assess the impact of conflicts in grammatical and natural gender on the time course of reading, participants’ eye movements were monitored. The results revealed clear disruptions in reading the predicate due to grammatical-gender mismatches with head and local nouns, in analogy to attraction in production. When the head nouns conveyed natural gender these effects were amplified, but variations in the natural gender of local nouns had negligible consequences. The results imply that comprehension and production are similarly sensitive to the control of grammatical agreement by grammatical and natural gender in subject noun phrases.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the Israeli Science Foundation (#0323157) to Avital Deutsch.
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- Comprehension of agreement rules
- Gender agreement
- Hebrew agreement