Presuppositions in Processing: A Case Study of German auch

  • Florian Schwarz


This paper presents two experimental studies investigating the processing of presupposed content. Both studies employ the German additive particle auch (too). In the first study, participants were given a questionnaire containing bi-clausal, ambiguous sentences with ’auch’ in the second clause. The presupposition introduced by auch was only satisfied on one of the two readings of the sentence, and this reading corresponded to a syntactically dispreferred parse of the sentence. The prospect of having the auch-presupposition satisfied made participants choose this syntactically dispreferred reading more frequently than in a control condition. The second study used the self-paced-reading paradigm and compared the reading times on clauses containing auch, which differed in whether the presupposition of auch was satisfied or not. Participants read the clause more slowly when the presupposition was not satisfied. It is argued that the two studies show that presuppositions play an important role in online sentence comprehension and affect the choice of syntactic analysis. Some theoretical implications of these findings for semantic theory and dynamic accounts of presuppositions as well as for theories of semantic processing are discussed.
How to Cite
Schwarz, F. (2019). Presuppositions in Processing: A Case Study of German auch. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 10(2), 301-316.