Date of Award
Bachelor of Science
Research conducted by linguists has indicated that inanimate entities are incompatible with verbs that connote intentionality because inanimate entities lack the facilities to complete intentional actions. However, there are currently no studies that have analyzed this inappropriate relationship in real-time. To address this gap, the current eye-tracking experiment investigated the infelicitous nature of this relationship, as well as how it may be modulated by different syntactic structures. The experiment implemented a 2 x 2 within-subjects design, in which the independent variables were verb type (neutral versus intentional) and syntactic structure (main clause versus relative clause), and the dependent variables were gaze duration, regression path duration, and total time. The data were consistent with previous research, for there was greater processing difficulty when the verb was intentional than neutral, as well as when it appeared in the main clause compared to when it was in a relative clause. Crucially, there was an interaction, in which the processing difficulty imposed by intentional verbs was reduced when the verbs were embedded within a relative clause. The current experiment is the first to provide online evidence of the inappropriate relationship between inanimate entities and intentional verbs.
Pittman, Michael, "The Crowbar Sabotaged the Machine: Effects of Verb Intentionality and Syntactic Structure on Fixation Times During Reading" (2020). Honors Theses. 1501.