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D-linking or set-restriction? Processing Which-questions in Dutch

Donkers, J., Hoeks, J. C. J. & Stowe, L. A., 1-Jan-2013, In : Language and Cognitive Processes. 28, 1-2, p. 9-28 20 p.

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  • D-linking or set-restriction. Processing Which-questions in Dutch

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DOI

Research on Wh-questions suggests that Which questions are harder to process than Who questions (e.g., Who/Which athlete won the competition?). According to the Discourse (D)-linking Hypothesis, Which-questions differ from Who-questions in that Which questions need a link to a preceding discourse, while Who questions do not. However, this difference in processing may also be caused by differences in set-restriction. Who is much less restrictive in the set of potential referents it presupposes than Which N (e.g., Which athlete). A self-paced reading study investigated how Who and Which N questions were processed compared to questions involving the generic Which person, which refer to the same relatively unrestrictive referential set as Who. Our results showed that Which N questions were significantly more difficult than Which person or Who questions in object initial structures, supporting the hypothesis that increased processing cost for Which should be explained by a mechanism of set-restriction inherent to Which N questions. Additionally we found that the syntactic role of the possible referents in the discourse context affects question processing before the readers encountered disambiguating information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-28
Number of pages20
JournalLanguage and Cognitive Processes
Volume28
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1-Jan-2013

    Keywords

  • Sentence comprehension, Discourse linking, Set restriction, Wh-questions, SYNTACTIC INTEGRATION, WH-QUESTIONS, INDIVIDUAL-DIFFERENCES, WORKING MEMORY, COMPREHENSION, CONTEXT, VIOLATIONS, DISCOURSE

ID: 5812873