Does pre-planning explain why predictability affects reference production?

Sandra Anne Zerkle, Jennifer Arnold


How does thematic role predictability affect reference production? This study tests a planning facilitation hypothesis – that the predictability effect on reference form can be explained in terms of the time course of utterance planning. In a discourse production task, participants viewed two sequential event pictures, listened to a description of the first picture (depicting a transfer event between two characters), and then provided a description of the second picture (continuing with one thematic role character, either goal or source). We replicated previous findings that goal continuations lead to more reduced forms of reference and shorter latency to begin speaking than source continuations. Additionally, we tracked speakers’ eye movements in two periods of utterance planning, early vs. late. We found that 1) early pre-planning supports the use of reduced forms but is not affected by thematic role; 2) thematic role only affects late planning; and 3) in contrast with our hypothesis, planning does not account for predictability effects on reduced forms. We then speculate that discourse connectedness drives the thematic role predictability effect on reference form choice.

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www.dialogue-and-discourse.orgISSN: 2152-9620   Journal doi: 10.5087/dad