ExLing 2010 - Third Workshop on Experimental Linguistics

Athens, Greece
August 25-27, 2010

The Impact of Order and Aspect in Processing of Causally Linked Sentences

Joanna Blochowiak (1), Jacques Moeschler (1), Thomas Castelain (2)

(1) Department of Linguistics, University of Geneva, Switzerland
(2) L2C2, Institute of Cognitive Science, Lyon, France (now University of Costa Rica)

This paper presents experimental studies that investigate two issues related to the expression of causality in French: (i) what is the impact of order (cause-consequence vs. consequence-cause) in the processing of causally linked sentences without connectives and (ii) how, if at all, the aspectual distinction influences the nature of causal relations and their processing. Our hypothesis is that the consequence-cause order is processed faster, as it is the order imposed by the paradigmatic causal connective parce que (because). The differences in reading time confirmed our hypothesis for weakly associated causes and consequences. The experiments also showed that the aspectual contrast between events and states affects the nature of causal relation itself and plays a considerable role in the processing of causality.

Index Terms. causality, order, aspect, event, state

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Blochowiak, Joanna / Moeschler, Jacques / Castelain, Thomas (2010): "The impact of order and aspect in processing of causally linked sentences", In ExLing-2010, 13-16.