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Does Time Perception influences in Language Processing?

Self-paced reading evidences of ¨Aspectual¨ Coercion in durative events Authors: SAMPAIO, Thiago Oliveira da Motta Federal University of Rio de Janeiro INSERM Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit 992 CEA - DSV - I2BM Neurospin FRANÇA, Aniela Improta Federal University of Rio de Janeiro MAIA, Marcus Antonio Rezende Federal University of Rio de Janeiro Address: Av. Horácio Macedo, s\n, Fac. de Letras – Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro ACESIN Lab, Room D51 / Departamento de Linguística Cid. Universitária, Rio de Janeiro/RJ, Brazil 21941-598 Contact e-mail: Abstract: Several works raised the question of Aspectual Coercion in the last decades (Pustejovsky, 1995; Jackendoff, 1997; Dölling 2011). Psycholinguistics and neurophysiological experiments present evidences that aspectual coercion occurs when punctual events (e.g. punch) are used in durative contexts (e.g. for five minutes Piñango et al. 1999; Todorova et al, 2000; Brennan & Pylkkänen 2008). In these experiments, durative contexts present larger RTs due to aspectual mismatches between their temporal properties and those of punctual events, triggering the iterative reading. However, as far as we know, there are no experiments contrasting these results in durative events. In the present work we propose that the effects found so far may not be related to punctual events or even to aspectual features. An alternative interpretation will see aspectual coercion as triggered by a referential change of a single event to a set of events when verbs are combined to temporal contexts lasting longer than the mean duration of the individual event. The mean duration can be picked up from a language external system such as Time Perception. Meck (1995) proposes a Clock Model of Time Perception in which our brain builds a gaussian curve of event durations we have been exposed though our life. When one was to estimate duration, it is picked up from this accumulated mean. If our hypothesis is correct, we will be able to find similar effects in durative sentences.

To achieve this goal, we ran a word-by-word self-paced reading protocol with 36 volunteers in Latin Square design. Four versions of the experiment where built mixing the 12 experimental sentences in one of the four temporal contexts below: Carla walked for ten [time-period] in Copacabana Beach Version/Time Periods: a) minutes b) days c) months d) years We ran an Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) in SPSS for each word of the stimuli. Our results revealed statistical relevance in RTs for the word describing the time period: minutes is read faster than years (p <.05). No other relevancies were found in the time period. More robust results are found late in the last two words, the wrapping up of the sentence, evidencing a coercion effect of multiple events compared to single events (p <.03 minutes-days; p =.001 minutes-months; p <.03 minutes-years). It seems still early discard the hypothesis of Aspectual Coercion, however our results are consistent with our main predictions and show that some non-aspectual properties are also relevant in language processing. Another question raised by these results is whether our results show a time-dimensional effect or a magnitude effect which can be seen in space-dimension or in quantity magnitude for example.