Grammatical Aspect and Mental Activation of Implied Instruments: A Mouse‑Tracking Study in Persian
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Can grammatical cues affect the way people activate event knowledge? We used mouse tracking to study the effect of grammatical aspect on the mental activation of instruments in Persian. Verb aspect is defined as how an action or event is extended over time, whether it is perfective (complete) or imperfective (incomplete). We predicted that imperfective aspect would trigger the mental activation of event knowledge, thus making participants mistakenly believe that the instrument with which the action is normally performed was present in the sentence. We tested this hypothesis using manual action verbs. Fifty female participants read a simple active sentence in which an actor had done or was doing an action (e.g., Sara has sliced/is slicing the zucchinis) with an implied instrument (knife). Then, they were presented with a picture of the implied instrument and judged whether the instrument was mentioned in the sentence they just read by clicking on the PRESENT or ABSENT response option. We predicted that participants would be less efficient at clicking ABSENT in the imperfective condition. In line with this prediction, we found that the imperfective condition caused significant deviation to the incorrect response PRESENT. However, no significant time differences emerged. The results are consistent with embodied views of language comprehension.
Golshaie, Ramin and Incera, Sara, "Grammatical Aspect and Mental Activation of Implied Instruments: A Mouse‑Tracking Study in Persian" (2020). EKU Faculty and Staff Scholarship. 603.
Journal of Psycholinguistic Research