SPP 1727: Focus and Thematic Role Assignment: A Comparison of Hungarian and German in Child Language Comprehension

The aim of this project is to investigate pragmatic inferences from information structure to thematic role assignment. The fact that information structure contributes to role disambiguation, in addition to syntactic and morphological cues (such as word order and case) is established in psycholinguistic and typological research. However, we know very little about listeners principles in mapping information structural categories, such as topic and focus, to particular arguments and their corresponding thematic roles. This project will collect empirical data with the goal of developing a precise pragmatic account of this process during language comprehension. Two theoretical positions will be compared: (a) Hearers use information structural preferences (e.g., topics are subjects and foci are objects) as defaults for thematic role assignment; (b) alternatively, information structural cues motivate pragmatic inferences about why the speaker uses canonical or non-canonical word orders.

Principal investigators
Knoeferle, Pia Prof. Dr. (Details) (Linguistics of German: Psycholinguistics)

Participating external organisations

DFG - Schwerpunktprogramme

Duration of project
Start date: 11/2015
End date: 05/2019

Research Areas
General and Comparative Linguistics, Experimental Linguistics, Typology, Non-European Languages

Kröger, J.M. (2019) Real-time thematic role assignment in children and adults. The influence of case-marking, prosody, and visual cues. Bielefeld, Germany (doctoral dissertation). https://pub.uni-bielefeld.de/record/2936107

Kröger, Julia, Münster, K., & Knoeferle, P. (2017). The influence of prosody and case marking on thematic role assignment in ambiguous action scenes: adults versus children. In: Proceedings of the 39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 2463-2468). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Kröger, Julia, Münster, K., Burigo & Knoeferle, P. (2018). Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle: How visual cues influence thematic role assignment in children and adults. In: Proceedings of the 40th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 1969-1974), Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Rodriguez-Ronderos, C., Münster, K., Guerra, E., Kreysa, H., Rodriguez, A., Kröger, J., Kluth, T., Burigo, M., Abashidze, D., Nunnemann, N., & Knoeferle, P. (2018). Eye Track- ing during visually situated language comprehension: flexibility and limitations in uncovering visual context effects. Journal of Visualized Experiments, 141, e57694, doi:10.3791/57694.

Last updated on 2022-08-09 at 23:07