This paper reports four priming experiments in Italian and Spanish, whose main goal was to empirically verify the psychological reality of two aspectual features crucially involved in event type classification, resultativity and durativity. The participants performed two semantic decision tasks targeting these features: in the durativity task, they were asked whether the verb referred to a durable situation, and in the resultativity task whether it denoted a situation with a clear outcome. The results obtained prove that both features are involved in online processing of the verb meaning: achievements and activities (respectively classified as [+resultative, -durative] and [-resultative, +durative]) were processed faster in certain priming contexts. This suggests that resultativity and durativity belong to the mental representation of verbal semantics. The pattern of priming effects obtained in the Romance languages presents some striking similarities (in the resultativity task, only achievements benefited from priming) alongside some intriguing differences, and clearly contrasts with the behaviour of another language tested, Russian, whose aspectual system differs in significant ways. Two hypotheses can be proposed to account for these results, both pointing to some sort of processing advantage for the achievements. The first hypothesis invokes the nature of the features involved: durativity is continuous and contextually malleable, whereas resultativity is binary and hence more stable. The second hypothesis focuses on the ontology of events, predicting that priming emerges when the target verb is actionally ambiguous. In this respect, transitively used activity verbs should occasionally yield priming, for they may be used as accomplishments. However, transitivity was not systematically controlled in the experiments reported below. Achievements, on the other hand, are inherently ambiguous: they can refer either to the moment at which a change of state occurs or to the resultant state itself.

Identifying actional features through semantic priming: cross-Romance comparison

BERTINETTO, Pier Marco;
2015

Abstract

This paper reports four priming experiments in Italian and Spanish, whose main goal was to empirically verify the psychological reality of two aspectual features crucially involved in event type classification, resultativity and durativity. The participants performed two semantic decision tasks targeting these features: in the durativity task, they were asked whether the verb referred to a durable situation, and in the resultativity task whether it denoted a situation with a clear outcome. The results obtained prove that both features are involved in online processing of the verb meaning: achievements and activities (respectively classified as [+resultative, -durative] and [-resultative, +durative]) were processed faster in certain priming contexts. This suggests that resultativity and durativity belong to the mental representation of verbal semantics. The pattern of priming effects obtained in the Romance languages presents some striking similarities (in the resultativity task, only achievements benefited from priming) alongside some intriguing differences, and clearly contrasts with the behaviour of another language tested, Russian, whose aspectual system differs in significant ways. Two hypotheses can be proposed to account for these results, both pointing to some sort of processing advantage for the achievements. The first hypothesis invokes the nature of the features involved: durativity is continuous and contextually malleable, whereas resultativity is binary and hence more stable. The second hypothesis focuses on the ontology of events, predicting that priming emerges when the target verb is actionally ambiguous. In this respect, transitively used activity verbs should occasionally yield priming, for they may be used as accomplishments. However, transitivity was not systematically controlled in the experiments reported below. Achievements, on the other hand, are inherently ambiguous: they can refer either to the moment at which a change of state occurs or to the resultant state itself.
Settore L-LIN/01 - Glottologia e Linguistica
Taming the TAME Systems
Brill Rodopi
actionality, semantic priming; Romance
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11384/7759
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