Speaker: Julie Franck (University of Geneva)
Title: Similarity-based interference in sentence processing: Insights from grammatical agreement
Abstract: Cross-linguistic evidence shows that subject-verb agreement is occasionally realized with an element that is not the subject, giving rise to ‘attraction’ errors. These errors typically arise when the interfering element linearly intervenes between the subject and the verb. However, they also occur when the subject and the verb are non-adjacent, although under precise structural conditions. In this talk, I will first survey the literature on attraction and suggest that the similarity between the subject and the interfering element is a key factor modulating error rates in sentence production, but also in sentence comprehension. Interestingly, similarity-based interference is the signature of cue-based memory systems. I will then report empirical evidence based on the Speed-Accuracy trade-off procedure suggesting that structural modulations of attraction align well with variations in the parameters of memory retrieval (accessibility and dynamics), leading to the tentative conclusion that syntactic theory is, in fact, a theory of memory.
Room S1, Psychology Building, 7 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9JZ