Discrete Dimension Accessibility in Multidimensional Concepts: the Noun - Adjective Distinction

Accepted (The mental lexicon)

Julie Fadlon, Galit Weidman-Sassoon & Petra B. Schumacher

Previous studies have identified that conceptual categories corresponding to nouns exhibit semantic domain effects: (1) classification into biological ones reflects a non-additive consideration of their defining dimensions whereas classification into artefactual and, presumably, social nouns is based on an additive one (2) nominal biological concepts are less graded than artifacts. Nevertheless, much uncertainty exists about the structure of conceptual categories corresponding to multidimensional adjectives. We propose that the effects observed for concepts corresponding to nouns are connected to a property we term discrete dimension accessibility and ask how it is manifested in multidimensional concepts corresponding to adjectives. We then hypothesize that (a) ratings of dimension-counting structures can be used as a diagnostic for these properties (b) the dimensions of multidimensional concepts corresponding to adjectives are inherently discrete. We report an acceptability rating experiment involving 42 adult Hebrew speakers revealing that with nouns, dimension-counting constructions with artefactual and social predicates are rated higher than ones with biological predicates, hence confirming (a).  With adjectives, ratings for dimension-counting constructions remained high across the domain manipulation, hence confirming (b). We argue that the interaction between discrete dimension accessibility and lexical category indicates that lexical distinctions interact with conceptual ones.

Keywords: Conceptual categories, Lexical category, Adjectives, Nouns

The role of dimensions in classification under predicates predicts their status in degree constructions

May, 2017

Galit Weidman Sassoon, Julie Fadlon

This paper presents an experimental study of multidimensional gradability across categories. The study tests whether and to what extent the naturalness of multidimensional adjectives and nouns in degree constructions is predictable from their conceptual-semantic properties – the way their dimensions are typically bound to create a unified interpretation. Past research suggests that binding by counting operations is common in multidimensional adjectives, possible in certain nouns (labeled additive nouns), and rare in others (dubbed multiplicative nouns; Hampton et al. 2009). We hypothesize that the higher naturalness of adjectives in degree constructions (Kennedy 1999) stems from a preference for dimension-binding by counting operations. Accordingly, we predict that additive nouns would be judged more natural than multiplicative nouns in any construction whose interpretation involves dimension-counting, e.g., dimensional quantifiers (as in: in {some, most, every} respect}) and degree modifiers (as in more P {than y, than Q, than y is Q}). The results of a naturalness survey involving 139 English speakers confirm our predictions. Moreover, our results indicate that the naturalness of a predicate in degree constructions and dimensional-quantifier constructions are tightly correlated, suggesting that dimension accessibility for counting is indeed an important predictor of morphological gradability. 

Direct object resumption in Hebrew: How modality of presentation and relative clause position affect acceptability

September, 2015

Aya Meltzer-Asscher, Julie Fadlon, Kayla Goldstein, Ariel Holan

Hebrew is generally considered a language with grammaticized resumption, in which resumptive pronouns (RPs) and gaps alternate freely in direct object position. The current study investigates whether and how speakers' acceptability judgments of direct object RPs in Hebrew are affected by the position of the relative clause in the main clause and the modality in which the sentences are presented. A hundred and eight Hebrew speakers completed an acceptability rating survey which included sentences with relative clauses modifying the main clause subject, direct, or indirect object, with either a gap or a resumptive pronoun. Modality of presentation was visual for half of the participants, and auditory for the other half. Results show that Hebrew speakers consistently judge direct object resumptives as less natural than gaps, particularly when sentences are presented in written form. The position of the relative clause does not interact with the acceptability of the RP. We discuss how different processing considerations may have contributed to the pattern of results observed. 

The acquisition of Hebrew idioms:
Stages, internal composition, and implications for storage

Julie Fadlon, Julia Horvath, Tal Siloni & Kenneth Wexler 
The study investigates the potential effects of the internal structure of idioms on their acquisition. It tested school-children (1st to 3rd graders) acquiring Hebrew. Comprehension and production experiments examined the effect of two structural factors on the acquisition of verb phrase idioms: (i) whether the idiom was a full lexically fixed constituent or involved an open slot, namely a free, lexically unspecified obligatory constituent; (ii) whether or not the idiom was decomposable. While neither (i) nor (ii) influenced idiom comprehension in these age groups, idiom production was affected by both. In the production experiment, performance with nondecomposable idioms was significantly better than performance with decomposable idioms across age groups. Further, an analysis by age group showed significant interactions of factors (i) and (ii) for second and third graders. We propose that the main effect of (non)decomposability is due to two distinct techniques (available in grammar) that children utilize for the storage of idioms, and to children’s facility with retrieval of units vs. retrieval by composition. Children, unlike adults, store nondecomposable phrasal idioms as independent entries, rather than as subentries of their lexical head. The reason for this misanalysis, we propose, is that children have difficulty reconciling the constituent structure of nondecomposable idioms with their lack of semantic composition. The effect of an open slot differs in accordance with the storage technique: It facilitates retrieval of units because there are fewer lexically fixed constituents to recover, but makes retrieval of subentries harder due to the nonuniform lexical representation of the idiom.

The transitive-unaccusative alternation: a cross-modal priming study

June, 2016

Julie Fadlon

The relationship between different linguistic manifestations of an eventuality-denoting concept, referred to in the literature as diatheses or voices, is well-studied in theoretical linguistics. Among researchers studying this phenomenon, it is widely agreed that there is a systematic relationship between the various diatheses of a concept. However, when a specific alternation is addressed, the nature of this relationship, namely, its directionality, is at debate. This research employs the much-debated transitive–unaccusative alternation as a case-study and reports the results of two cross-modal priming experiments designed to explore how Hebrew speakers perceive it. The results reveal an asymmetry between the facilitating effects of transitives and unaccusatives, thus suggesting that the relationship between these diatheses is directional. As a whole, this study demonstrates that theoretical debates regarding derivational relationships can be addressed by means of psycholinguistic research.

Hidden entries: A psycholinguistic study of derivational gaps

May, 2012 (chapter)

Julie Fadlon

This paper discusses the crosslinguistic phenomenon of sporadic derivational gaps and compares two possible ways to account for it. I show that a psycholinguistic research can be employed to determine which is preferable and present an experimental study designed to detect hidden lexical representations of gaps in the transitive-unaccusative alternation.

Using what's there: Bilinguals adaptively rely on orthographic and color cues to achieve language control (preprint)

Accepted (Cognition)

Julie Fadlon, Chuchu li, Anat Prior, Tamar H. Gollan

We examined if bilinguals of two different language combinations can rely on novel and arbitrary cues to facilitate switching between languages in a read-aloud task. Spanish-English (Experiment 1) and Hebrew-English (Experiment 2) bilinguals read aloud mixed-language paragraphs, known to induce language intrusion errors (e.g., saying el instead of the), to test if intrusion rates are affected by: language combination, color-cues, language dominance, and part of speech. For Spanish-English bilinguals, written input is not rich in visual cues to language membership, whereas for Hebrew-English bilinguals rich cues are present (i.e., the two languages have different orthographies and are read in opposite directions). Hebrew-English bilinguals made fewer intrusion errors than Spanish-English bilinguals, and color cues significantly reduced intrusions on switches to the dominant language but not to the nondominant language, to the same extent in both bilingual populations. These results reveal powerful effects of visual cues for facilitating production of language switches, and illustrate that switching mechanisms are highly adaptable and sensitive, in that they can both recruit language- and orthography-specific cues when available and also rapidly exploit novel arbitrary cues to language membership when these are afforded. Finally, such incidental, experimentally induced cues, were recruited even in the presence of other already powerful cues, when task demands were high.

It depends: optionality in the production of filer-gap dependencies

Accepted, Journal of Memory and Language

Julie Fadlon, Adam M. Morgan Aya Meltzer-Asscher and Victor S. Ferreira
This study investigates the language production mechanisms underlying the creation of filler-gap
dependencies (e.g., relative clauses: This is the boy that the girl from Norway saw_ yesterday),
which require speakers to establish an argument-predicate relationship between a phrase, the
‘filler’, (the boy) and a further embedded predicate (saw). We show that filler-gap dependency
production involves the retention of a representation of the filler until the relevant embedded
position. We then report three elicitation experiments examining how English and Hebrew
speakers manage and moderate filler retention demands via production choices. In Experiments 1
(English) and 2 (Hebrew), speakers produced restrictive relative clauses and non-restrictive
relative clauses with the latter predicted to impede filler retention. In Experiment 3 (Hebrew),
speakers produced relative clauses with and without intervening material creating interference
for filler retention. We found that English speakers use passivization to moderate filler-retention
demands via the creation of shorter dependencies. In Hebrew, impeded filler retention resulted in
increased rate of grammatical resumption. We conclude that the production of filler-gap
dependencies invokes cognitive strategies that manage the memory burdens that they impose. 


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