Case in Lanuge Comprehension

Markus Bader and Monique Lamers

in The Oxford Handbook of Case

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780199206476
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

 Case in Lanuge Comprehension

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  • Linguistics
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology


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Research on human language comprehension has been heavily influenced by properties of the English language. Since case plays only a minor role in English, its role for language comprehension has only recently become a topic for extensive research on psycholinguistics. In the psycholinguistic literature, these processes are called the human parsing mechanism or the human sentence processing mechanism (HSPM). According to the Strong Competence Hypothesis, the syntactic structures computed by the HSPM are exactly those structures that are specified by the competence grammar. This article assumes that the HSPM computes phrase-structure representations enriched by various syntactic features, in particular case features on noun phrases. After providing a short introduction into current research concerned with the HSPM, it explores how syntactic functions are assigned in the face of morphological case ambiguity, the role of case for identifying clause boundaries in languages like Japanese and Korean, the problem of syntactic ambiguity resolution, and whether markedness distinctions that have been postulated to obtain between different cases are reflected in language comprehension.

Keywords: case; language comprehension; psycholinguistics; human sentence processing mechanism; Strong Competence Hypothesis; noun phrases; morphological case; markedness; syntactic ambiguity; competence grammar

Article.  6629 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Psycholinguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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