Alissa Melinger, Thomas Pechmann, and Sandra Pappert
Speech production involves the transformation of a to-be-expressed idea, or message, into lexical and grammatical content. Given the generally recognised separation of functional and positional processes, it has been argued that case assignment is within the domain of functional processes (or within Dell's syntactic stage). This article focuses on case assignment, which is achieved during the grammatical encoding stage of utterance planning. Early proposals for sentence production models were highly influenced by the distribution and characteristics of naturally occurring speech errors. More recent revisions of these models have been further influenced by experimental investigations into structural and word order alternations using a method called syntactic priming. This article first lays out in gross terms the general views of the stages necessary for sentence production. It then discusses the evidence that has supported the various stages of the production models and how they directly or indirectly inform us about the processes responsible for case assignment in sentence production. This includes evidence for and against (radical or weak) incrementality and evidence for lexical guidance (or verb primacy) in functional assignment.
Markus Bader and Monique Lamers
Research on human language comprehension has been heavily influenced by properties of the English language. Since case plays only a minor role in English, its role for language comprehension has only recently become a topic for extensive research on psycholinguistics. In the psycholinguistic literature, these processes are called the human parsing mechanism or the human sentence processing mechanism (HSPM). According to the Strong Competence Hypothesis, the syntactic structures computed by the HSPM are exactly those structures that are specified by the competence grammar. This article assumes that the HSPM computes phrase-structure representations enriched by various syntactic features, in particular case features on noun phrases. After providing a short introduction into current research concerned with the HSPM, it explores how syntactic functions are assigned in the face of morphological case ambiguity, the role of case for identifying clause boundaries in languages like Japanese and Korean, the problem of syntactic ambiguity resolution, and whether markedness distinctions that have been postulated to obtain between different cases are reflected in language comprehension.
This article examines the relation between the study of comparative syntax and language disorders. It aims to demonstrate ways in which research on impaired language interacts with syntactic theory. The article shows that the study of impaired language interacts with comparative syntax in particular, a research program which aims at understanding human language by comparing and contrasting the behavior or properties of several languages with respect to certain syntactic structures or types of phenomena. It also discusses several types of language therapy.
Edson T. Miyamoto
This article reviews the research investigating how sentences are processed in Japanese, reporting a controversy involving head-final languages and summarizing related experimental results in Japanese. It also describes how clause boundaries are determined in Japanese and how readers recover from initial misanalyses. The processing of long-distance dependencies for fronted wh-phrases is then discussed. Furthermore, the work related to such dependencies in relative clauses, scrambling, and in-situ wh-phrases is addressed. The processing of filler-gap dependencies has been shown to underline a variety of phenomena across a number of different languages. The results indicate that the difficulty in processing simple sentences with scrambled order is relatively small and may not be detected in self-paced reading. It remains to be seen whether the competition model is able to cover constructions more complex than the single-clause structures usually examined.
Christina L. Gagné
Psycholinguistic research is concerned not just with the structure of language, but also with how such structure is represented and used. In short, psycholinguists study how language is acquired, represented, and used by the human mind. Compound words offer an interesting test case for psycholinguistic theories because even though they represent a unified concept, like simple words, they also embody an underlying structure, like phrases and sentences. This chapter provides an overview of experimental psycholinguistics, and, in particular, discusses theoretical approaches taken concerning the representation and processing of compounds, and factors that influence compound processing. It also discusses current directions and issues in psycholinguistic research.