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Priming Unaccusative Middles: Flexible Argument Structures and the Online Processing of Middle Constructions.

Title:

Priming Unaccusative Middles: Flexible Argument Structures and the Online Processing of Middle Constructions.

Meyohas, Juliana (2012) Priming Unaccusative Middles: Flexible Argument Structures and the Online Processing of Middle Constructions. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

ABSTRACT
Priming Unaccusative Middles: Flexible Argument Structures and the Online Processing of Middle Constructions.
Juliana Meyohas, M.A.
Middle constructions, such as This book sells well, are formed with a transitive verb, but with an object figuring in subject position (This book). It has been proposed that these constructions either project a transitive structure (e.g., Bowers, 2002) or an unaccusative one (e.g., Rapoport, 1999). Recent studies (Di Sciullo, de Almeida, Manouilidou, & Dwivedi, 2007; Maia, Oliveira, & dos Santos, submitted) seem to suggest that middle constructions are more complex to process than their transitive counterparts. We contrasted middles constructions against syntactically simplex transitive constructions, and syntactically complex transitive and unaccusative constructions, namely passives and predicatives. We kept the verbs constant across conditions, and controlled for subject animacy. Results from Experiment 1 (self-paced reading) and Experiment 3 (eye-tracking) indicated a facilitation on the processing of middles when compared against their transitive counterparts. Results from Experiment 2 (an off-line rating task), indicated greater complexity associated with the comprehension of middles when compared against transitives, but not when compared against their passive and predicative counterparts. We suggest that, once materials were composed of two clauses in a contrastive coordinated relation (e.g., That stucco is rough, but this wall paints smoothly), information pertaining to the unaccusative predicative clause in the first conjunct (That stucco is rough) influenced the processing of the target sentences in the second conjunct. Our findings are consistent with the proposal that middle constructions project an unaccusative structure and that argument structure information is available during online processing.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Meyohas, Juliana
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Psychology
Date:24 September 2012
Thesis Supervisor(s):de Almeida, Roberto
ID Code:974831
Deposited By:JULIANA MEYHOAS MAIA
Deposited On:30 Oct 2012 11:22
Last Modified:30 Oct 2012 11:22
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