Phonological versus semantic prediction in focus and repair constructions: No evidence for differential predictions.

Affiliation

Pennsylvania State University, United States. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

Evidence suggests that the language processing system is predictive. Although past research has established prediction as a general tendency, it is not yet clear whether comprehenders can modulate their anticipatory strategies in response to cues based on sentence constructions. In two visual world eye-tracking experiments, we investigated whether focus constructions (not the hammer but rather the …) and repair disfluencies (the hammer uh I mean the …) would lead listeners to generate different patterns of predictions. In three offline tasks, we observed that participants preferred semantically related continuations (hammer - nail) following focus constructions and phonologically related continuations (hammer - hammock) following disfluencies. However, these offline preferences were not evident in participants' predictive eye-movements during online language processing: Semantically related (nail) and phonologically related words (hammock) received additional predictive looks regardless of whether the target word appeared in a disfluency or in a focus construction. However, significantly less semantic and phonological activation was observed in two "control" linguistic contexts in which predictive processing was discouraged. These findings suggest that although the prediction system is sensitive to sentence construction, is it not flexible enough to alter the type of prediction generated based on preceding context.

Keywords

Differential prediction,Disfluency,Language comprehension,Spreading activation,

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