Subject-Predicate Agreement in Hebrew: Interrelations with Semantic Processes

Avital Deutsch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

The processing of subject-predicate agreement in Hebrew was examined in two experiments in which eye movements were recorded. These experiments examined the interrelation between on-line semantic processes and the syntactic analysis of agreement. In Experiment 1, the congruity of subject and predicate was manipulated, by violating agreement in gender, number or both. Fixation time on the predicate was longer when the subject and predicate were incongruent only in cases where the predicate immediately followed the subject, but not in cases where a five-word modifier phrase was embedded between the subject and the predicate. Assuming that the appearance of such a phrase caused a time delay in which semantic processes took place, these results may indicate the susceptibility of the syntactic analysis of agreement to on-line non-syntactic processes. This possibility was further supported in Experiment 2, in which subject-predicate order was manipulated. Comparable fixation times on the subject were found regardless of whether it preceded or followed the predicate. However, fixation times for the predicate were longer when it preceded than when it followed the subject. Since the second of the two elements of the agreement carries redundant semantic information, and since the semantic meaning of the inflectional morphemes is conceptually connected to the subject rather than the predicate, the observed asymmetry in processing time for the subject and the predicate may indicate an influence of conceptual factors on the processing of the agreement.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)575-597
Number of pages23
JournalLanguage and Cognitive Processes
Volume13
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1998

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