I'm gonna be frank: I'm a high school student who has limited experience with linguistics. I've never studied it, I've just read a textbook and a handful of seminal studies. Recently, though, I was reminded of the concept of modular vs interactive sentence processing when, in one of my classes, it became obvious that most people had misinterpreted a sentence on the lecturer's slide show. After a drawn-out class discussion where we all gradually came to this realization, I noted that the 6 native Japanese speakers in the room were the only ones to understand the sentence's correct meaning.

The incident could easily be coincidence(and may not even indicate anything valuable about sentence processing), but it does raise an interesting point: different languages could theoretically encourage different means of sentence processing. Does any peer-reviewed research exist to corroborate this idea?

  • If most native speakers misinterpret something... Oct 14, 2019 at 7:24
  • 1
    This is very abstract. What's a "means of sentence processing"? Japanese sentences have have a word order that is, very roughly speaking, the opposite of English. So for instance if a potentially ambiguous sentence in English is parsed by an L1 English speaker and an L1 Japanese speakers, they might end up with different interpretations. This is also just a hazy example though; I think if you stated what the actual sentence was that got misinterprets, people with some knowledge of Japanese may at least make educated guessed as to why/how Japanese speakers understood it differently.
    – LjL
    Oct 14, 2019 at 14:06
  • 1
    I realize that's not quite what your question asks, but I suspect without that as a starting point, we'll get nowhere.
    – LjL
    Oct 14, 2019 at 14:07


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.