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You are here: Home / News & Events / Events / All Events Here / CLS Speaker Series - Darren Tanner (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

CLS Speaker Series - Darren Tanner (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

When Dec 01, 2017
from 09:00 AM to 10:30 AM
Where 127 Moore
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Do the Comprehension and Production of Grammatical Agreement Use Shared Mechanisms?  A Psycholinguistic Tale in Three Acts

Grammatical relationships like agreement are a hallmark of natural language, such that language users must learn to compute these discontinuous dependencies in real time in both language production and comprehension. Psycholinguistic theories must therefore account for the types of information that feed these computations and the cognitive mechanisms that support them. Of particular interest in recent theorizing is the relationship between comprehension and production, with many researchers arguing that there is a large degree of overlap between the two tasks. In particular, many recent theories have posited that language production processes at least partially support language comprehension (e.g., Dell & Chang, 2014; Pickering & Garrod, 2013; see also MacDonald, 2013; Segaert et al., 2012; Silbert et al., 2014).  In this talk, I examine this issue through the lens of grammatical subject-verb agreement. A significant amount of work has documented processing of subject-verb agreement in language production and shown that a variety of morphological and semantic factors influence agreement computation, but that conceptual representations and feature markedness play an important role agreement production (Eberhard, 1997, 1999; Eberhard et al., 2005; see also Gillespie & Pearlmutter, 2011, 2012). In a series of two ERP, two self-paced reading, and one speeded comprehension experiments, I look at the role of these factors in comprehension (Tanner, Nicol, & Brehm, 2014; Tanner & Bulkes, 2015; Tanner, Dempsey, & Christianson, in prep). Overall, the results show that prior findings implicating conceptual representations and plural markedness effects do not extend to comprehension. The findings converge to show that there are non-trivial differences in how morphosyntactic agreement is computed in comprehension and production. I describe an agreement comprehension system that highlights the feature anticipation and memory retrieval as key mechanisms supporting morphosyntactic dependency formation.