The role of clefting, word order and given-new ordering in sentence comprehension: Evidence from Hindi

Shravan Vasishth, Rukshin Farokh Shaher, Narayanan Srinivasan


Two Hindi eyetracking studies show that clefting a noun results in greater processing diculty initially, due to the extra processing steps involved in encoding a clefted noun (e.g., for computing the exhaustiveness interpretation). However, this extra diffculty in encoding a clefted noun results in a processing advantage when the clefted noun needs to be retrieved later on in the sentence { the clefted noun is retrieved faster in subsequent processing compared to its non-clefted counterpart. This effect is short-lived, however; it does not last beyond the current sentence. We also show that given-new ordering yields a processing advantage over new-given order, but this is only seen after the whole sentence is processed, i.e., it is a late effect that occurs after syntactic processing is completed. Finally, following up on work on German by Hornig et al. (2005), we present evidence that non-canonical order can be processed more easily than canonical order given appropriate context.

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