ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 53 ›› Issue (10): 1071-1081.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2021.01071

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Effects of sentence structure and type of control verb on thematic role assignment: Evidence from eye movements

LI Fang, LI Xin, ZHANG Manman, BAI Xuejun()   

  1. Faculty of Psychology, Tianjin Normal University, Tianjin 300387, China
  • Received:2020-08-27 Published:2021-10-25 Online:2021-08-23
  • Contact: BAI Xuejun
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(81471629);National Natural Science Foundation of China(31800920)


The extended argument dependency model (eADM) suggests that readers adopt a position-based assignment for rigid word-ordering languages with case marking, and thematic reanalysis occurs when the verb’s argument representation contradicts with the argument cues, which induces additional processing costs. To test the model, this study used a 2 (sentence structure: centered, preposed) × 2 (type of control verb: subject control, object control) within-subject design and recorded the eye movements of 24 native Chinese speakers. By manipulating sentence structure, the reliance on word order information in the existence of case marking information in Chinese was investigated. Type of control verb was manipulated to examine the reanalysis of thematic roles when argument representation of the verb was in contradiction with cues of arguments in Chinese. The results were as follows: (1) the preposed structure sentences gained more duration and regression than the centered structure sentences in the first noun, second noun and verb regions; (2) more second-pass reading time and total regressions were found in the object control verb condition than in the subject control verb condition in the verb and post-verb regions; (3) For the centered structure sentences, there were more duration and regression in sentences containing object control verbs than those containing subject control verbs in the second noun and verb regions; However, for the preposed structure sentences, there were longer reading time in sentences containing object control verbs than those containing subject control verbs in the post-verb region. These findings are in line with the claim of the eADM model.

Key words: word order, case marking, control verb, thematic role assignment