University of Cambridge > > RCEAL Tuesday Colloquia > L1 and L2 Comprehension of Enriched Composition: Evidence from offline and online processing.

L1 and L2 Comprehension of Enriched Composition: Evidence from offline and online processing.

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The enriched compositional hypothesis (Jackendoff 2002) is specifically concerned with sentence level integration of conceptual information that is not explicitly stated in surface form structure. The results from the following set of 3 studies are discussed in light of this compositional approach to sentence-level processing.

The first experiment is a replication of Piñango et al’s (1999) study that examined the notion of repetition by comparing sentences involving simple (The light shone for an hour) and enriched (The light flashed for an hour) compositional processes. While the off-line judgment questionnaire did not support the original findings, a cross modal lexical decision (CMLD) task showed that the iterative condition (i.e., multiple flashes) resulted in longer on-line processing times.

A second experiment investigated online processing effects for sentence combinations that rely on the insertion of an unexpressed activity. Results from a CMLD task that compared simple (The student owned the car for six months) versus enriched (The student borrowed the car for six months) conditions showed longer processing times for sentences that included an unexpressed activity (e.g., The student borrowed the car (to drive) for six months).

A third experiment examined L2 English offline judgments for sentences that incorporated the verbs enjoy/remember/forget with concrete (The musician enjoyed the guitar at the concert) and abstract nouns (The musician enjoyed the atmosphere at the concert). Those results showed that sentences with concrete nouns (the enriched condition) triggered more word insertions for an unexpressed activity (The musician enjoyed (playing) the guitar). However, the correct grammatical form was dependent on the preceding verb type. These results are discussed in terms of on-line processing research for complement selection (McElree et al; 2001).


DeVelle, S. (2005). Aspectual coercion and on-line processing: The case of iteration. In S. Kepsar & M. Reis (Eds.), Linguistic evidence: Empirical, theoretical and computational perspectives. New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Jackendoff, R. (2002). Foundations of Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Piñango, M., Zurif, E., & Jackendoff, R. (1999). Real-time processing implications of enriched composition at the syntax-semantics interface. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 28(4): 395-414.

McElree, B., Traxler, M., Pickering, M., Seely, R., & Jackendoff, R. (2001). Reading time evidence for enriched composition. Cognition, 78, 17-25.

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