The scrambling complexity hypothesis based on working memory or locality accounts as well as syntactic accounts have proposed that processing a scrambled structure is difficult. However, the locus of this difficulty in sentence processing remains debatable. Several studies on multiple languages have explored the effect of scrambling on sentence processing and not all languages have shown an advantage for the canonical word order. Using a self-paced reading paradigm, we studied the effect of scrambling on semantic anomaly detection in Hindi sentence comprehension employing three word order types. Reading times on critical verbs, judgment latency, and error rates showed significant effect of word order type. The results further revealed significant interactions between word order and anomaly type. The patterns of results suggest that the canonical word order does not necessarily have a processing advantage in terms of speed and accuracy over non-canonical orders and do not provide support to sentence processing accounts that assume an advantage for canonical structures. The results indicate that processing speed depends on the distance between the subject and the verb, thus supporting a locality dependent working memory based model of sentence processing. The results provide evidence for the role of specific cognitive processes in Hindi sentence processing with further implications for language and literacy acquisition in Hindi.
Reading and Writing – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 9, 2010
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