Nominal modification in language production: Extraposition of prepositional phrases in german

  • In my dissertation, I investigate the phenomenon of extraposition of PP out of NP in German in language production. Four production experiments, using the method of production of memory, and three experiments testing the acceptability of extraposition were conducted. In extraposition, a constituent is realized in a position to the right of what would be considered the canonical position. A special case is extraposition out of a nominal phrase (NP), in which a constituent is moved out of NP to the end of the utterance. The example in (1a) illustrates the canonical version, in which a prepositional phrase (PP) is adjacent to its head noun. In (1b) the PP is extraposed out of NP to the right edge of the sentence. (1) a. Gestern hat eine Frau mit einer lauten, schrillen Stimme angerufen. b. Gestern hat eine Frau angerufen mit einer lauten, schrillen Stimme. There are two main aspects to consider: the length of the extraposed constituent (the PP), and the length of the intervening material. Experiment 1 investigated the influence of constituent length on extraposition. The hypothesis is that longer and more complex constituents are harder to produce and are therefore produced towards the end of the utterance. In the experiment, PPs of three different lengths (2-3, 5-6, 9-11 words) had to be reproduced in either adjacent or extraposed position. As to the length of the intervening material, the hypothesis is that sentences with more intervening material between head noun and extraposed PP will tend to be reproduced with the PP in adjacent position to the head noun. In order to test this hypothesis, the length of the intervening material (1, 2 and 4 words) was manipulated in Experiment 2. The same material was used in an acceptability experiment, using the method of magnitude estimation (Experiment 5). Previous studies found that extraposition is preferred over verbal material only, thus Experiment 3 investigated the influence of different lengths of purely verbal intervening material. Experiment 4 was concerned with the differences between PP and RC extraposition in production. Experiment 6 and 7 used Likert scales to assess the acceptability of extraposition. Experiment 6 investigated whether the acceptability of extraposition is influenced by the definiteness status of the NP out of which is extraposed and if a soft constraint for definiteness can be found for PP extraposition in German. Experiment 7 asked if the inner structure of the extraposed constituent (PP only vs. PP+RC) influences its acceptability. An extraposed PP that includes an RC should be "heavier" than a PP without an RC, since the number of phrasal nodes is higher. If indeed heavier constituents are realized at the end of an utterance, the acceptability of an extraposed PP that includes an RC should be higher than that of an extraposed PP without one. The results of the production experiments show that sentences are mostly reproduced in their original linear sequence, which suggests that extraposed position seems to be just as canonical as adjacent position, especially when extraposition takes place over verbal material only. With regard to constituent length, in extraposed position long PPs are shortened less often, supporting the hypothesis that longer and more complex constituents tend to be produced at the end of the utterance. Recency effects were found for intervening material as participants dropped intervening material rather than change syntactic position of constituents. The length and type of the intervening material is important with respect to how much intervening material is acceptable. Verb clusters were not shortened in sentences with extraposed PPs, however, 1⁄3 of adverbs and 1⁄2 of PP adverbials including a lexical NP were shortened to „verb only“. Extraposed PPs are more often reproduced in adjacent position than adjacent PPs are reproduced in extraposed position. However, the position of RCs is more often changed from adjacent to extraposed than from extraposed to adjacent. While producing extraposed PPs seems not to be any more difficult than producing adjacent ones, adjacent constituents are consistently rated higher than extraposed constituents in grammaticality judgment tasks. This is in line with findings of Konieczny (2000) on German RC extraposition. The number of phrasal nodes, as suggested by Rickford et al. (1995), did not have an influence on the acceptability of extraposition, while the length of the constituent, measured in words, seems to play a role. Definiteness had no effect on adjacent PPs, but when the PP was extraposed, sentences with an indefinite antecedent were rated higher than sentences with a definite antecedent. This suggests that there is a "soft constraint" for definiteness with regard to PP extraposition out of NP in German.

Download full text files

Export metadata

Additional Services

Share in Twitter Search Google Scholar
Author:Sabrina Weber
Place of publication:Frankfurt am Main
Referee:Markus Bader, Gert WebelhuthORCiDGND
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Year of Completion:2019
Year of first Publication:2019
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Granting Institution:Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität
Date of final exam:2019/06/24
Release Date:2019/09/26
Page Number:334
Institutes:Neuere Philologien / Neuere Philologien
Dewey Decimal Classification:4 Sprache / 41 Linguistik / 410 Linguistik
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht