Ching-Chung Guey


There have been accounts on why processing object relative clauses is more difficult than processing subject relative clauses. One account attributes the difficulty to the increase of working memory load, another to the roles of sentential subject plays, still another to the differences in perspective consistency. The present study is intent on probing the effect of different serial orders (position factor) in processing two different types of nominal clauses to check whether serial model for processing sentences also fit with other accounts mentioned above. The primary assumption of this study is that there is more processing difficulty in nominal clause as subject than as object based on the number of operational cognitive steps involved. The research question is: Are Subject nominal clauses more difficult than Object ones in the course of processing? A total of 30 participants were recruited to do the translation work on English sentences with either Subject or Object nominal clauses, the performance of which will be measured by the time spent (seconds). The results indicate that time spent on Subject nominal clauses are significantly longer than Object ones. Thus, the assumption that the number of operational steps involved can be a criterion to measure difficulty level of sentence parsing.


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cognitive steps, subject nominal clause, object nominal clauses, sentence processing

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