Cognitive loads and time courses related to word order preference in Kaqchikel sentence production: an NIRS and eye-tracking study

Masatoshi Koizumi, Yasuhiro Takeshima, Ryo Tachibana, Riku Asaoka, Godai Saito, Keiyu Niikuni, Jiro Gyoba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The word order that is easiest to understand in a language generally coincides with the word order most frequently used in that language. In Kaqchikel, however, there is a discrepancy between the two: the syntactically basic VOS incurs the least cognitive load, whereas SVO is most frequently employed. This suggests that processing load is primarily determined by grammatical processes, whereas word order selection is affected by additional conceptual factors. Thus, the agent could be conceptually more salient than other elements even for Kaqchikel speakers. This hypothesis leads us to the following expectations: (1) utterance latency should be shorter for SVO sentences than for VOS sentences; (2) Kaqchikel speakers should pay more attention to agents than to other elements during sentence production; and (3) despite these, the cognitive load during sentence production should be higher for SVO than for VOS. A Kaqchikel sentence production experiment confirmed all three expectations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-150
Number of pages14
JournalLanguage, Cognition and Neuroscience
Volume35
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Feb 4

Keywords

  • VOS language
  • Word order preference
  • processing load
  • sentence production
  • utterance latency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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