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Title:Searching for the basis of the hierarchy of adjectives
Authors:ID Mišmaš, Petra (Author)
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Work type:Not categorized
Typology:3.14 - Invited Lecture at Foreign University
Organization:UNG - University of Nova Gorica
Abstract:The talk focuses on several experiments which were conducted during the ongoing project Probing the cognitive basis of the cartographic hierarchy of functional projections in the noun phrase (J6-7282, financed by the Slovenian Research Agency and conducted at the University of Nova Gorica) and which were intended to establish whether cognition can be taken as a source of the universal hierarchy of functional projections in the noun phrase. The experiments are largely based on the findings of the cartographic approach to syntax, see for example Cinque & Rizzi (2008) for an overview. Specifically, we observe the functional hierarchy of projections which host attributive adjectives in the noun phrase. Under cartography, the existence of such a hierarchy is responsible for the strict word order of adjectives which seems to be, just like the hierarchy itself, universal (see for example Hetzron 1978, Sproat and Shih 1991, etc.). Put differently, the order of adjectives is universal because adjectives are hosted by functional projections which appear in a universal hierarchy (Cinque 1994, Scott 2002). And while much of the cartographic work tries to answer (i) how many functional projections there are and (ii) in which order they come, we focus on the source of the hierarchy of functional projections. Different sources have been suggested in the past, with some authors arguing that the order of adjectives is a consequence of Universal Grammar (Scott 2002), however, we investigate general cognition as a possible source of the universal hierarchy of functional projections, as proposed by Cinque & Rizzi (2008) and Ramchand & Svenonius (2014). To test the hypothesis that the universal hierarchy is dictated by general-cognition restrictions we have created tasks to observe whether the order of projections, which host adjectives, is reflected in various non-linguistic cognitive processes. If a bias is detected, it could be taken as indication that universal hierarchies of functional projections are based on properties of general cognition. To address this prediction, we only consider three types of properties: size, shape and color. These are encoded in adjectives for size, shape and color (for example, adjective red is related to the property of being red) which universally come in the order size > shape > color. Specifically, we expect to find a larger bias towards color, followed by shape and finally by size. This prediction was tested with two different tasks performed by adult subjects and with a sorting task which was tested with the help of subjects aged 18 to 36 months.
Keywords:adjectives, cartography, functional hierarchy, cognition
Place of performance:Language & Development Lab, University of California San Diego
Year of performance:2019
COBISS.SI-ID:5385723 New window
Publication date in RUNG:15.05.2019
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