Data processing French temporal connectives and verbal tenses

Resource Type
  • Blochowiak, Joanna
  • Grisot, Cristina
Publication Date
  • FORS - Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences
  • Abstract

    Pieces of discourse such as "The plane landed, (then) passengers got off" and "The plane landed unexpectedly because it had a technical problem" show that discourse connectives, generally used to explicitly express a discourse relation, sometimes are necessary and other times they become redundant. Scholars to date have not attended to the divergent behaviour of the various types of discourse relations and their explicit expression through discourse connectives. Assessing this issue is necessary for having an accurate understanding of how humans process pieces of discourse and how does linguistically encoded information pilot this process. This project, situated in the experimental pragmatics field (Noveck and Sperber 2004) and drawing on a systematic pragmatic theory, experimental methods used in psycholinguistics and corpus-based cross-linguistic investigations, will shed light on how comprehenders process implicit and explicit temporal relations and how they deal with competing sources of temporal information. Psycholinguistic literature (e.g. Canestrelli, Mak and Sanders 2013; Zufferey 2014) has shown that causal connectives facilitate the processing of the immediately following segment. This facilitation effect was interpreted in post-gricean Relevance Theory as due to the procedural meaning of connectives (i.e. instructions about how to manipulate mental representations), signalling the most relevant interpretative path. Nonetheless, this effect was not found for explicit temporal relations (Segal, Duchan, Scott 1991; Murray 1997; Grisot and Blochowiak, submitted). Contrary to causal connectives, temporal connectives seem to decrease the level of informativity of language, as shown by the two examples above. It is this highly common, yet still not fully explored, phenomenon that the present project seeks to address by testing two hypotheses. The first is that comprehenders have expectations about relations holding between segments when reading a text, which bias their inferential decisions. These expectations, explained as default (conversational) implicatures in gricean and neo-gricean pragmatics and as pragmatically determined aspects of what is explicitly communicated for relevance theorists, affect both canonical causal relations (cause – consequence) as well as sequential chronological temporal relations. The second is that, the presence of supplementary cues (such as verbal tenses and aspectual information) raises these expectations, and, therefore, the preference for implicitness, that is for contents to be inferred instead of being explicitly expressed by the speaker.
Temporal Coverage
  • 04/2018-03/2019
Geographic Coverage
  • Switzerland (CH)
  • United Kingdom (GB)
Collection Mode
  • Measurements and tests
Academic research and teaching - With prior agreement of author

Update Metadata: 2019-05-27 | Issue Number: 1 | Registration Date: 2019-05-27