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Distributivity and Agreement mismatches in Serbian

Bosnic, A., 15-May-2016, 3rd Workshop On Psycholinguistic, Neurolinguistic And Clinical Linguistic Research. Faculty of Philosophy, Novi Sad, p. 77-101 24 p.

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This paper presents a truth value judgment study done on two types of numerals in the Serbian numerical system and corresponding verbal agreement mismatch that is characteristic for the numerals in question. Recent work on agreement and distributivity suggests that singular verbal marking promotes distributivity while plural marking can be interpreted as both distributive and collective. Serbian informants showed opposite intuitions – singular suggests collectivity and plural marking denotes distributivity. Given the highly inflectional nature of the Serbian language, we were interested in investigating to what degree verbal agreement influence interpretation preferences. Two types of numerals – paucal and mixed-gender – were used with singular and plural verbal agreement. Adults and 7-year-old children showed no correlation between verbal agreement and collective/distributive interpretations. Adults accept collective readings and disprefer distributive ones, while children accepted both distributive and collective readings for all sentence forms, even at age seven. We propose a follow up study that will take cognitive load into account and test whether increased load can cause this drastic difference between adults and children.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication3rd Workshop On Psycholinguistic, Neurolinguistic And Clinical Linguistic Research
PublisherFaculty of Philosophy, Novi Sad
Pages77-101
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 15-May-2016

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