ProProCon: The What and When of Processing Projective Content

Principal investigators:
Prof. Dr. Anke Holler
Dr. Thomas Weskott
Universität Göttingen

Project description:
The phenomenon of projection of semantic content (henceforth: projective content, PC) has attracted much attention throughout the past ten years, both in terms of theoretical discussions and concerning psycholinguistic experimentation. This resulted in much finer grained distinctions between different types of PC. However, the discussion of the heterogeneity of PC has been largely determined by data stemming from introspective use of a number of operational tests like the “Hey, wait a minute”-test, and other types of off-line data. Our project aims at gaining a better understanding of the temporal sequence of processing steps and the nature of the representations involved in the comprehension of sentences containing PC triggers. To this end, we investigate the interaction of the effects of different types of PC (definite descriptions, expressives, and focus particles) with well-established lexical and syntactic effects, using a variety of methods ranging from offline questionnaires to eye-tracking during reading. Our contribution to the larger enterprise lies in the systematic validation and expansion of the methodological toolkit, as well as in providing the discussion on the heterogeneity of PC with a new type of data.