Colorado Research in Linguistics

Document Type

Working Paper


Based on the results of a sorting task involving verbs and grammatical patterns, Bencini & Goldberg (2000) argue that “argument structure constructions are directly associated with sentence meaning.” We explore this hypothesis by attempting to replicate their results using a nonhuman categorizer: a cognitive model based on ACT-R (Anderson & Lebiere 1998). The model replicated the sentence-sorting behaviors of Bencini & Goldberg’s subjects, but did so using formal cues alone. This outcome suggests that the subjects in the Bencini & Goldberg study were not necessarily attending to constructional meaning, and lends support to Bock’s (1986) conclusions regarding syntactic priming: subjects’ similarity judgments are as likely to be based on syntactic form alone as they are to involve syntax-semantic mapping.



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