To what extent are the processing patterns for nouns and verbs universal across languages? Under conditions of semantic strain, English speakers tend to adapt the meaning of the verb to fit the noun in the sentence. We asked Japanese and English speakers to paraphrase simple sentences of the form “The noun verbed,” varying in semantic strain (e.g., “The blender talked”). We then assessed the degree to which speakers adjusted the default word meanings in their paraphrases by asking a new group of speakers to read the paraphrases and to guess (“retrace”) which word had occurred in the original sentence. As predicted, English speakers retraced more nouns than verbs, suggesting that verb meanings were adjusted to a greater degree than noun meanings in the paraphrases. However, the results for Japanese speakers did not differ between nouns and verbs. We discuss implications for the universality of a noun−verb mutability difference.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Title of host publication||Proceedings of the 28th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society|
|Editors||Ron Sun, Naomi Miyake|
|Publisher||Cognitive Science Society|
|Number of pages||6|
|State||Published - 2006|