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Open Access Publications from the University of California

(How) Do Register and Morphosyntactic Congruence Effects Interact during Sentence Reading? Two Eye-Tracking Pilot Studies


In two eye-tracking pilots during reading, we investigated real-time processing of formality-register congruence and subject-verb morphosyntactic congruence, and their relation. Participants read, in German, two context sentences conveying a formal or informal situation, followed by a target sentence containing a high- or low-register verb (e.g., Engl. transl. "The policeman detained the activist" vs. "The policeman grabbed the activist") which matched or mismatched context formality. The second pilot additionally manipulated subject-verb morphosyntactic congruence (e.g., Engl. transl. "*The policeman detain the activist"; "*The policeman grabbed the activist"). We observed main effects of formality-register and morphosyntactic congruence on verb reading times, as well as an interaction effect at the post-verbal object noun. Higher degrees of context and target sentence formality resulted in longer reading times. Ongoing investigation will further clarify our pilot findings, which suggest some interference between formality-register and morphosyntactic congruence processing.

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