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Animacy effects on the processing of intransitive verbs: An eye-tracking study

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    Rights statement: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Language Cognition and Neuroscience on 5 January 2018, available online:http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23273798.2017.1421316.

    Accepted author manuscript, 935 KB, PDF document

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)850-866
JournalLanguage, Cognition and Neuroscience
Issue number9
Early online date5 Jan 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Jan 2018


This paper tested an assumption of the gradient model of split intransitivity put forward by Sorace (‘Split Intransitivity Hierarchy’ (SIH), 2000, 2004), namely that agentivity is a fundamental feature for unergatives but not for unaccusatives. According to this hypothesis, the animacy of the verb’s argument should affect the processing of unergative verbs to a greater extent than unaccusative verbs. By using eye-tracking methodology we monitored the on-line processing and integration costs of the animacy of the verb’s argument in intransitive verbs. We observed that inanimate subjects caused longer reading times only for unergative verbs, whereas the animacy of the verb’s argument did not influence the pattern of results for unaccusatives. In addition, the unergative verb data directly support the existence of gradient effects on the processing of the subject argument.

    Research areas

  • intransitivity, animacy, eye-tracking, agentivity

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