Semantic incorporation and discourse prominence : Experimental evidence from English pronoun resolution
2021-12, Wittenberg, Eva, Trotzke, Andreas
The semantic incorporation of nouns into predicates, like give a hug, is not morphologically marked in English, and how syntactic incorporation strategies like light verb constructions influence the discourse-prominence structure of an utterance has not yet been studied systematically. One hypothesis is that since semantically incorporated nouns are not morphosyntactically incorporated in English, they can function like any other noun as prominent and accessible referents for anaphora. Another hypothesis is that their semantic status and their predicative meaning influence their discourse prominence, and hence their accessibility by anaphoric means. We tested these two hypotheses in two experimental studies on different anaphoric preferences of English pronouns. Our studies demonstrate that the felicity patterns for the two different pronominal reference strategies are determined at different linguistic levels: For it, we found an impact of morphosyntactic form; for that, the semantic type of the referent (object vs. event) seems to play a role. Crucially, the degree of semantic incorporation does not affect discourse prominence and pronoun choice to the extent that we had expected.
Topicalization in German particle verb constructions : The role of semantic transparency
2015, Trotzke, Andreas, Quaglia, Stefano, Wittenberg, Eva
In this paper, we investigate topicalization patterns of German particle verbs by comparing the syntactic behavior of semantically transparent and non-transparent particle verb constructions. We propose a classification that allows us to cover the whole transparency spectrum and to distinguish between fully transparent and fully non-transparent particle verbs. Given this classification, we report on a questionnaire study that provides empirical evidence for the claim that information structural constraints in combination with the degree of semantic transparency govern topicalization patterns in particle verb configurations. We conclude by pointing out potential additional constraints on topicalization in particle verb constructions that go beyond information structure.
A Psycholinguistic Investigation into Diminutive Strategies in the East Franconian NP : Little Schnitzels Stay Big, but Little Crooks Become Nicer
2021, Wittenberg, Eva, Trotzke, Andreas
Upper German dialects make heavy use of diminutive strategies, but little is known about the actual conceptual effects of those devices. This paper is the first to present two large-scale psycholinguistic experiments that investigate this issue in East Franconian, a dialect spoken in Bavaria. Franconian uses both the diminutive suffix -la and the quantifying construction a weng a lit. ‘a little bit a’ to modify noun phrases. Our first experiment shows that diminutization has no effect on conceptualization of magnitude: People do not think of a smaller/weaker/shorter etc. referent when the NP is modified by the morphological diminutive, the quantifying construction, or their combination. The second experiment involves gradable NPs and shows that, again, the morphological diminutive has no effect on how people conceptualize the degree to which a gradable nominal predicate holds; in contrast, a weng a reduces it significantly. These experiments suggest that diminutization does not have uniform effects across semantic domains, and our results act as a successful example of extending the avenue of cognitive psychology into dialectology with the active participation of a speaker community.
Definitely, maybe : A new experimental paradigm for investigating the pragmatics of evidential devices across languages
2019-01, Degen, Judith, Trotzke, Andreas, Scontras, Gregory, Wittenberg, Eva, Goodman, Noah D.
We present a new experimental paradigm for investigating lexical expressions that convey different strengths of speaker commitment. Specifically, we compare different evidential contexts for using modal devices, epistemic discourse particles, and statements with no evidential markers at all, examining the extent to which listeners' interpretations of certain types of evidential words and their judgments about speaker commitment differ in strength. We also probe speakers' production preferences for these different devices under varying evidential circumstances. The results of our experiments shed new light on distinctions and controversies that play a key role in the current theoretical literature on the semantics and pragmatics of modals and discourse particles. Our paradigm thus contributes to a domain of experimental research on evidential expressions that is only just taking shape at the crossroads of theoretical semantics/pragmatics and psycholinguistics; we provide a potential starting point for approaching theoretical debates on the nature of modal evidential expressions from an experimental and context-oriented perspective.
Long-standing issues in adjective order and corpus evidence for a multifactorial approach
2019-03-26, Trotzke, Andreas, Wittenberg, Eva
In this paper, we introduce the issue of adjective order and show that different approaches vary in their answers to the question of how fine-grained the semantic categories determining adjective order are. We report on a corpus study that we conducted and that illustrates that a clear answer to the question of what general factors exactly determine adjective order is elusive, given the multifactorial nature of the problem. We then present the individual contributions to this special issue, and how they attempt to add new observations from Germanic languages to the general issues revolving around the topic of adjective order.
Expressive particle verbs and conditions on particle fronting
2017-04-01, Trotzke, Andreas, Wittenberg, Eva
In this paper, we propose a new distinction between expressive and non-expressive particle verbs in German. The basic observation for our proposal is that these two classes behave differently in the domain of particle fronting. In order to explain this difference, we will show that certain particle verbs are extreme degree expressions and that, therefore, a possible contrast across degrees makes fronting acceptable, even when the particle in isolation is non-contrastable. Our claims are supported by a rating study probing German native speakers’ intuitions about the likelihood of the occurrence of an utterance, without relying on acceptability judgments. We connect these new findings to other forms of non-information-structural fronting patterns that endow utterances with an emphatic flavor.