Persistence of emphasis in language production: A cross-linguistic approach

S. Bernolet, R. J. Hartsuiker, M. J. Pickering

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This study investigates the way in which speakers determine which aspects of an utterance to emphasize and how this affects the form of utterances. To do this, we ask whether the binding between emphasis and thematic roles persists between utterances. In one within-language (Dutch-Dutch) and three cross-linguistic (Dutch-English) structural priming experiments. we measured persistence effects for four different Dutch transitives (actives, PP-initial passives, PP-medial passives, and PP-final passives). Whereas English allows only one passive (PP-final passive), Dutch allows three different variants with the same functional assignment, but different constituent structures. Additionally, the degree of emphasis on the agent differs significantly between the PP-initial passive and the other passives (Experiment 1). Experiment 2 showed persistence of actives, PP-medial, and PP-final passives in Dutch, but no priming between passives with different constituent structures. Experiments 3 and 4, however, showed that both PP-medial and PP-final passives prime the use of English passives. Experiment 5 confirmed that the emphasis on thematic roles persists: the proportion of passives in the PP-initial passive condition fell midway between the proportions produced in the active and PP-medial passive condition. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-317
Number of pages18
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • spoken sentence production


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