Collocation analysis can be used to extract meaningful linguistic information from large-scale corpus data. This paper reviews the methodological issues one may encounter when performing collocation analysis for discourse studies on Chinese. We propose four crucial aspects to consider in such analyses: (i) the definition of collocates according to various parameters; (ii) the choice of analysis and association measures; (iii) the definition of the search span; and (iv) the selection of corpora for analysis. To illustrate how these aspects can be addressed when applying a Chinese collocation analysis, we conducted a case study of two Chinese causal connectives: yushi ‘that is why’ and yin’er ‘as a result’. The distinctive collocation analysis shows how these two connectives differ in volitionality, an important dimension of discourse relations. The study also demonstrates that collocation analysis, as an explorative approach based on large-scale data, can provide valuable converging evidence for corpus-based studies that have been conducted with laborious manual analysis on limited datasets.
We investigated whether fine-grained coordination in a screen-based puzzle task with a (virtual) partner would influence on-line perspective-taking. Participants played a screen-based puzzle game with a computer player. In the high-coordination condition, the player presented participants with puzzle pieces that could be placed near their partner’s last piece. In the low-coordination condition, pieces could only be placed further away from their partner’s last piece. Participant’s eye movements were then measured in a referential communication task, with the partner giving the instructions, and whether possible competitor referents were in shared or privileged ground. The results demonstrate clear effects of ground and coordination. Participants in both coordination groups were sensitive to the perspective of the interlocutor. In addition, participants in the high-level coordination condition were more sensitive to statistical regularities in the input and their comprehension was more time-locked to the utterance of the speaker.
This study explores how subjectivity is expressed in coherence relations, by means of a distinctive collocational analysis on two Chinese causal connectives: the specific subjective kejian ‘so’, used in subjective argument-claim relations, and the underspecified suoyi ‘so’, which can be used in both subjective argument-claim and objective cause-consequence relations. On the basis of both Horn’s pragmatic Relation and Quality principles and the Uniform Information Density Theory, we hypothesized that the presence of other linguistic elements expressing subjectivity in a discourse segment should be related to the degree of subjectivity encoded by the connective. In line with this hypothesis, the association scores showed that suoyi is more frequently combined with perspective markers expressing epistemic stance: cognition verbs and modal verbs. Kejian, which already expresses epistemic stance, co-occurred more often with perspective markers related to attitudinal stance, such as markers of expectedness and importance. The paper also pays attention to similarities and differences in collocation patterns across contexts and genres.
Causal relations can be presented as subjective, involving someone's reasoning, or objective, depicting a real- world cause-consequence relation. Subjective relations require longer processing times than objective relations. We hypothesize that the extra time is due to the involvement of a Subject of Consciousness (SoC) in the mental representation of subjective information. To test this hypothesis, we conducted a Visual World Paradigm eye- tracking experiment on Dutch and Chinese connectives that differ in the degree of subjectivity they encode. In both languages, subjective connectives triggered an immediate increased attention to the SoC, compared to objective connectives. Only when the subjectivity information was not expressed by the connective, modal verbs presented later in the sentence induced an increase in looks at the SoC. This focus on the SoC due to the linguistic cues can be explained as the tracking of the information source in the situation models, which continues throughout the sentence.
Language users need to interpret others’ subjective opinions in communication. In causal relations, subjectivity is defined as the involvement of a speaker who is responsible for the causal reasoning. Subjectivity can be expressed by various linguistic cues such as perspective markers (e.g. I think, it is said) and modal verbs (e.g. may, must). Some connectives encode subjectivity as well – the Chinese connective kejian ‘so/therefore’ and the Dutch connective dus ‘so’ indicate that a causal relation is based on the subjective reasoning of the speaker. These linguistic cues function as instructions for comprehenders in on-line language processing. This dissertation explores the use of linguistic markers expressing subjectivity in discourse and how these markers influence the representation and processing of discourse. Three different methods were applied to Mandarin Chinese: a collocational analysis, an on- line reading study and a visual world paradigm eye-tracking study. The results show that linguistic cues such as perspective markers and modal verbs are used in combination with connectives to express subjectivity in causal relations. In on-line reading, these linguistic cues function as processing instructions to readers – helping them track the source of information and interpret subjectivity. Moreover, this process is highly incremental. An eye-tracking study using the visual world paradigm provided evidence about how subjectivity influences processing: the processing of subjectivity involves activating the source of information in the mental representation of the linguistic input. Combining these three methods has proved to be a fruitful way of gaining more insight into the phenomenon of subjectivity.