3 thoughts on “Number attraction in pronoun production: evidence for antecedent feature retrieval

  1. Thanks for a great talk! I was curious whether you have any thoughts about what might happen with constructions like “The greeny mimmed the PINKIES, not the bluey, below it” — i.e. where there is some kind of correction going on. E.g. one speaker says “The greeny mimmed the bluey below it” and the participant has to correct “No, the greeny mimmied the PINKIES, not the bluey, below it” (and one could of course play around with sing plural and plural sing for the pinkie(s) and the bluey(s)). Do you think correction/corrective focus would modulate the extent to which the lure has (lures?) an effect? The specific example I give is not great since people probably won’t need to repeat the pronoun in the correction, but the basic idea would be to play around with corrective focus to see if that does anything.

    1. Thank you for your question! Our proposal predicts that adding focus to an item increases its likelihood of exerting attraction, so playing around with the focus of the lure is a great way to test this hypothesis. Adding corrective focus would be an interesting way to potentially boost the focus of the lure to see whether that then modulates effect size, though I do not think we know enough about the source/scope of our effect yet to know whether the corrective focus of “the PINKIES” would be more likely to result in interference than the NP “the bluey” (mentioned closer to the pronoun) in your sentence frame. A first step would probably be to start out with only two NPs in the sentence (e.g. “The greeny mimmed the pinkies below it” vs. “No, the greeny mimmed the PINKIES below it”), though as you pointed out, you’d need to have the right configuration of aliens on the screen to prompt the speaker to repeat the PP in the correction.

    2. Thanks, Elsi. A first, general comment is: we keep thinking that the errors will disappear in the next experiment, and that hasn’t happened yet. That said, I would be really surprised if attraction persisted in your case, given the possibility of repetition of the pronoun form in the first sentence.

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