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Accounting for semantic integration: notional and grammatical effects in number agreement

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Title: Accounting for semantic integration: notional and grammatical effects in number agreement
Author(s): Brehm, Laurel E.
Advisor(s): Bock, Kathyrn
Department / Program: Psychology
Discipline: Psychology
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: M.A.
Genre: Thesis
Subject(s): Agreement Semantic integration Mental Models Notional number Attraction
Abstract: Notional and grammatical number affect agreement in language production. To explore their workings, we investigated how semantic integration, a type of conceptual relatedness, produces changes in agreement (Solomon & Pearlmutter, 2004). Notional and lexical-grammatical number offer alternative accounts of these effects. The notional hypothesis is that changes in number agreement reflect differences in referential coherence: More coherence yields more singularity. The lexical-grammatical hypothesis is that changes in agreement arise from competition between nouns differing in grammatical number: More competition yields more plurality. These hypotheses make opposing predictions about semantic integration. On the notional hypothesis, semantic integration promotes singular agreement. On the lexical-grammatical hypothesis, semantic integration promotes plural agreement. We tested these hypotheses with agreement elicitation tasks in three experiments. All three experiments supported the notional hypothesis, with semantic integration or notional plurality creating faster and more frequent singular agreement. This implies that referential coherence mediates the effect of semantic integration on number agreement.
Issue Date: 2012-02-06
Rights Information: Copyright 2011 Laurel Brehm
Date Available in IDEALS: 2012-02-06
Date Deposited: 2011-12

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