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   2006, Vol. 38 Issue (03) : 317-323     DOI:
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Item Order of Propositional Representation in Understanding Chinese Initiative and Passive Sentences
Zhang-Jinqiao,Molei
Department of Applied Linguistics, College of Chinese Language and Culture, Jinan University, Guangzhou 510631, China
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Abstract  Adopting a sentence-picture verification task technique, this paper describes one experiment designed to examine the item order of proposition representations in Chinese readers’ understanding of Chinese initiative and passive sentence among 34 Chinese college students (14 males and 20 females).
The study employed a 2x2x2 factorial within-subjects design. The three factors are meaning level (non-reversible sentences with higher level of meaning vs. reversible sentences with lower level of meaning), sentence type (initiative sentences vs. passive sentences), and sentence-picture relationship (congruent vs. incongruent). The dependent variables were the picture verification time and the correct ratio.
The experiment was conducted on PIV computers. First, participants were asked to press the space bar when they were ready to begin, and a sentence appeared in the center of the computer screen. Then they were instructed to read the sentence at a normal speed until they had completely understood it. When they finished reading, they were asked to press the space bar again. As the sentence disappeared, a picture appeared. The first part of the display was a single picture centered on the screen (e.g., a picture of a hawk or a chicken). One second later a second picture appeared (e.g., a picture of a hawk snatching or not snatching a chicken). Participants were required to decide whether the state of affairs in the pictures was a true or false representation based on the sentences previously shown.
The results were that: (1) For Chinese non-reversible initiative sentences, the reaction time for the congruent sentence-picture relationship was shorter than the incongruent one (1001ms vs. 1123ms). (2) For Chinese non-reversible passive sentences, the reaction time for the congruent sentence-picture relationship was longer than the incongruent one (1142ms vs. 1020ms). (3) For the Chinese reversible initiative sentences, the reaction time for congruent sentence-picture relationship was shorter than the incongruent one (1603ms vs. 1757ms). (4) For Chinese reversible passive sentences, the reaction time of congruent sentence-picture relationship was longer than the incongruent one (1775ms vs. 1598ms). No statistical difference was found with regard to the correct ratio. According to the logic of the present study, all the experimental results suggest that Chinese readers easily form the constant propositions representation of “agent→object” in reading Chinese initiative sentence and passive sentence; they are reversible.
From the results of the present study, it appears that Chinese students can form the same deep structure (the item order of “agent→object”) according to a different surface structure (“agent→object” in Chinese initiative sentences and “object→agent” in Chinese passive sentence) in reading Chinese initiative and passive sentences, and they probably go through a series of cognitive processing according to the inherent directionality of “agent→object”.)
Keywords initiative sentences      passive sentences      propositions representation      item order      agent      object     
:  B842  
Corresponding Authors: Zhang Jinqiao   
Issue Date: 30 May 2006
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Zhang-Jinqiao,Molei. Item Order of Propositional Representation in Understanding Chinese Initiative and Passive Sentences[J]. ,2006, 38(03): 317-323.
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http://journal.psych.ac.cn/xlxb/EN/     OR     http://journal.psych.ac.cn/xlxb/EN/Y2006/V38/I03/317
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