, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 163-188

The Effects of Word-Order and Case Marking Information on the Processing of Japanese

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Many studies in processing English report that verb information plays a significant role in processing the rest of the sentence (e.g., Boland & Tanenhaus, 1991). Japanese is subject-object-verb (SOV), head-final language with the phenomena of scrambling and phonologically null pronouns. The fact that verb information does not become available until the end of a clause leads one to ask whether other types of information may be utilized in the on-line processing of Japanese. The current study investigated whether word order and case markers play a role. Overall, no effect of word order was observed, even though the frequency of the scrambled sentences was low. Experiment 1 found no extra processing load in processing scrambled sentences. In Experiment 2, no effect of word order was found in the parser's decision making in computing a syntactic structure prior to the verb. On the other hand. Experiment 3 found that the parser was sensitive to the variety of case-marked arguments. The results of the three experiments are more congruent with the nonconfigurational structure than with the configurational structure at the stage of preverbal syntactic processing in Japanese.