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The time course of processing perfective and imperfective aspect in Polish

Evidence from self-paced reading and eye-tracking experiments

Acta Linguistica Academica
Dorota Klimek-Jankowska
Anna Czypionka
Wojciech Witkowski
, and
Joanna Błaszczak

This paper is a contribution to a long-standing discussion related to the domain of aspectual interpretation. More precisely, it focuses on the impact of the degree of specificity and morphological complexity on the time course of processing of perfective (prefixed perfective and semelfactive perfective) and imperfective (simple imperfective and iterative imperfective) verbs in Polish. In two experiments, eye-tracking during reading and self-paced reading, we tested a hypothesis based on Frisson & Pickering (1999), Pickering & Frisson (2001), and Frisson (2009) that the interpretation of semantically underspecified verbs should be delayed to the end of a sentence. As predicted, in both of the reported experiments significantly longer reading measures were observed for aspectually underspecified simple imperfective verbs as compared to aspectually more specific perfective verbs in the sentence-final region. Our second major prediction was that morphological complexity of aspectual forms should cause computational cost directly on the verbal region. As predicted, significantly longer reading times were observed on morphologically complex (prefixed) perfective verbs and (suffixed) semelfactive perfective verbs as compared to their morphologically simple imperfective counterparts in the eye-tracking experiment. This effect was not confirmed in the self-paced reading experiment. This difference between the results in the two reported experiments is attributed to the differences between the methods used.

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