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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02211

Eye movements reveal delayed use of construction-based pragmatic information during online sentence reading: A case of Chinese Lian…dou Construction

  • 1Department of Psychology, Peking University, China
  • 2Institute of Psychology and Behavior, Tianjin Normal University, China
  • 3Department of Psychology, School of Humanities, Tongji University, China
  • 4School of Psychological and Cognitive Sciences, Peking University, China

An ERP study demonstrated that construction-based pragmatic constraints in Chinese (e.g., lian…dou that constrains a low-likelihood event and is similar to even in English) can rapidly influence sentence comprehension and the mismatch of such constraints would lead to increased neural activity on the mismatching word. Here we examine to what extent readers’ eye movements can instantly reveal the difficulties of mismatching constraints when participants read sentences with the structure lian + determiner phrase + object noun + subject noun + dou + verb phrase (VP) + final commenting clause. By embedding high-likelihood or neutral events in the construction, we created incongruent and underspecified sentences and compared such sentences with congruent ones describing events of low expectedness. Relative to congruent sentences, the VP region of incongruent sentences showed no significant differences on first-pass reading time measures, but the total fixation duration was reliably longer. Moreover, readers made more regressions from the VP and the sentence-final region to previous regions in the incongruent than the congruent condition. These findings suggest that the effect of pragmatic constraints is observable during naturalistic sentence reading, reflecting the activation of the construction-based pragmatic information for the late integration of linguistic and extra-linguistic information at sentential level.

Keywords: Eye Movements, Sentence construction, Pragmatic constraints, Chinese reading, Pragmatic Inferrence

Received: 27 Jun 2019; Accepted: 17 Sep 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Zhou, Zang, Zhang, Zhang, Xuejun, Yan, Jiang and He. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Xiaolin Zhou, Peking University, Department of Psychology, Beijing, 100871, China, xz104@pku.edu.cn