Understanding Coordinate Clauses: A Cross-Linguistic Experimental Approach

  • Bergljot BehrensEmail author
  • Barbara Mertins
  • Barbara Hemforth
  • Cathrine Fabricius-Hansen
Part of the Studies in Theoretical Psycholinguistics book series (SITP, volume 44)


The present article provides evidence suggesting that general pragmatic accounts of orderliness in the temporal interpretation of VP coordination may be somewhat biased by the choice of typically script-based (con)sequential examples. Most of the discussion in the literature has been based on examples from a single language, mostly relying on the intuitions of the author(s) of the paper. On the basis of a cross-linguistic, empirical approach to language understanding, we have tested different language speakers’ preferred interpretation of the temporal relation holding in contextualized VP conjunctive sentences that are pragmatically not typically consequential or resultative. Under these conditions, our results show a preference for temporal overlap interpretations across languages. We also find that language-specific properties modify this general bias, thus supporting a competition-based account of relating form to meaning.


VP Coordination Competition Temporal interpretation Norwegian English Czech German 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bergljot Behrens
    • 1
    Email author
  • Barbara Mertins
    • 2
  • Barbara Hemforth
    • 3
  • Cathrine Fabricius-Hansen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Literature, Area Studies and European LanguagesUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  2. 2.Institut für Deutsch als FremdsprachenphilologieUniversity of HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany
  3. 3.Laboratoire de Linguistique FormelleCNRS, Université Paris DiderotParisFrance

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