Eye-Tracking Evidence for the Reference of German Demonstratives

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1 Fachbereich Humanwissenschaften, Institut für Kognitionswissenschaft Eye-Tracking Evidence for the Reference of German Demonstratives Bachelor Thesis August 2010 Sebastian Timmer Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Peter Bosch Prof. Dr. Peter König 1

2 Abstract This study was conducted in order to find out whether it is possible that a referent in discourse topic is accessible to demonstrative pronouns in discourses with two grammatically possible antecedents. This is contrary to what former studies found out. But our hypothesis that this works anyway, is based on an example with only one possible antecedent that is very natural and intuitive in German everyday language use. We tried to convert this example into a discourse with two referents. The experiment was done with eye-tracking and participants had to look at sceneries built with Playmobil while listening to the sentences we wanted to investigate. The results did not support the hypothesis, as in all conditions the referent in focus position was fixated significantly more. 2

3 Contents 1 INTRODUCTION METHODS Stimuli Visual Stimuli Auditory Stimuli Randomization/Balancing Participants Apparatus Procedure Data Analysis Fixations Statistics Regions of Interest RESULTS DISCUSSION CONCLUSION REFERENCES ACKNOWLEDGMENT APPENDIX A Visual Stimuli...28 B Auditory Stimuli...32 C Questionnaire and Data Sheet...42 C.1 Subject Questionnaire...42 C.2 Session Data Sheet AFFIRMATION

4 1 Introduction The comprehension of pronominal expressions is a task in everyday language that does not lead to problems to understand to what antecedent the pronoun refers to. Although the mechanism behind that seems to be complex. The linguistic function of pronouns is to substitute a noun phrase in order to avoid the repetition of explicit names. Thus, they are proforms used to refer back to a concept that has been introduced in the discourse before [Almor et al., 2007]. They are anaphoric expressions and therefore coreferential with their antecedent they replace. So the main task is to find the correct antecedent, especially in cases in which there is more than one possible candidate. This process is called the anaphora resolution. The resolution process consists, according to Nicol and Swinney (1999), of three steps. The first step is the denomination of the pronoun triggering the search for an antecedent. Then in a second step all potential antecedents are taken into account until finally in step tree exactly one candidate of the whole set is picked up and all others get discarded. We are only aware of the last step while the other two remain unconscious [Nicol and Swinney, 2002]. Most of the time it does not cause problems to pick the right candidate and it can be easily performed, although we do not pay attention to it. This is the case for the simple example (1) below: Example (1): Ein Mann geht nach hause. Er war bis gerade im Büro. (A man is going home. He was in the office until now.) One of the most important works concerning the topic of reference of anaphoric expressions is Binding Theory [Chomsky, 1981], that deals with syntactic restrictions. Chomsky differentiates between three kinds of anaphoric expressions, which are Anaphors (bound pronouns like himself ), Pronominals (referential pronouns like he ) and R-expressions (like the policeman ). Referential pronouns are not allowed to be bound (c-commanded) by their antecedents. Besides these syntactic restrictions also semantic processes seem to play an important role in making the decision for one or the other referent as antecedent [Caplan and Hildebrandt, 1988]. Discourse Representation Theory (DRT) [Kamp, 1981] and the Centering Theory [Grosz et al., 1995] are semantic approaches to this topic. Kamp s idea is that the resolution of a pronoun goes beyond sentence boundaries. Here every sentence has to be integrated stepwise into a discourse representation structure in which the right antecedent can be 4

5 possibly found. The theory of Grosz et al. deals with the saliency of referents to explain restrictions that may occur. Further, it seems that pragmatic information have to be taken into account dealing with the topic of pronoun resolution [Bosch et al., 2007], additionally to the ones mentioned above. In German there are two types of pronouns that can refer to given proper nouns. These are personal pronouns (PPros) like er, sie, es on the one hand and demonstrative pronouns (DPros) like der, die, das on the other hand. In a discourse with only one suitable referent both pronoun types can refer to that antecedent like in the Example (2). Example (2) Ein Mann geht nach hause. Er/Der war bis gerade im Büro. (A man is going home. He PPro/DPro was in the office until now.) But Bosch et al. found evidence for a grammatical distinction of personal and demonstrative pronouns [Bosch et al., 2007]. Personal pronouns have a preference for the noun phrase of the preceding sentence in subject position, while demonstrative pronouns tend to prefer the noun phrase in non-subject position. The theory get supported by the works of F. Krause (2007) and M. Meyer (2007). In the example (3) below this is shown, in which er would substitute the noun phrase der Polizist and der would point to dem Autofahrer. Unless the world knowledge pushes the interpretation of a pronoun into the one or the other direction the PPro and the DPro behave this way. Example (3) Der Polizist redet mit dem Autofahrer. [Er/Der] regt sich fürchterlich auf. (The policeman talks to the car driver. He PPro/DPro is very angry.) Similar observations were made for pronouns in Italian [Carminati, 2002], Finnish [Kaiser and Trueswell, 2005] and Dutch [Kaiser and Trueswell, 2007]. What concerns this study is the fact that demonstrative pronouns prefer non-subject antecedents [Bosch and Umbach, 2007]. This is the noun phrase in focus position. As it is often noted, opposing to the open proposition, which is generally taken to be old information, already in the discourse model or at least known or inferable, the focus is taken to be new information [Chomsky, 1971], [Prince, 1978], [Wilson and Sperber 1979], [Horn, 1981], [Delahunty, 1982] and [Gundel, 1985]. In focus the referent is not only in short-term 5

6 memory, but is also at the current center of attention [Gundel, Hedberg and Zacharski, 1993]. Although demonstrative pronouns generally reject subject antecedents, they may also accept them, at least in non-competition situations, like in the Examples (4) and (5) of Bosch and Umbach (2007). Example (4) Woher ich k das weiß? Peter i hat es mir k gesagt. Der i war gerade hier. (How do I know? Peter i told me. He i (DPro) has just been here.) Example (5) Woher Maria k das weiß? Peter i hat es ihr k gesagt. Der i war gerade hier. (How does Maria k know? Peter i told her k. He i (DPro) has just been here.) Thus, the grammatical role of an antecedent may be a fair corpus generalization, but is definitely not the relevant parameter. Subjects typically refer to discourse topics and DPros normally avoid referents in discourse topic [Bosch and Umbach, 2007]. Topic and focus are categories of information structure, which is a discourse property that is not always directly reflected in the syntax and the semantics of sentences. Hans-Martin Gärtner came up with the following Example (6): Example (6) Gestern habe ich Karl k getroffen. Er k arbeitet jetzt bei IBM. Den k sollten wir mal einladen. (Yesterday I met Karl k. He k works for IBM now. We should invite him k (DPro) some time.) Karl in this example is a clear case of discourse topic: repeated previous reference, last reference by an unstressed anaphoric PPro. But still it is accessible to the DPro. In German it is even more natural to use the DPro in this case. The aim of this study now is to find out whether this example also works for sentences with more than one possible referent. What are the special aspects that make up this example? First of all the predicate in the third sentence here must be a characterizing one because 6

7 otherwise, as in Example (7), it does not work. Example (7) Gestern habe ich Karl k getroffen. Er k arbeitet jetzt bei IBM. Der k hatte letzte Woche einen Autounfall. (Yesterday I met Karl k. He k works for IBM now. He k (DPro) had a car accident last week.) It seems that a familiarity to the person in discourse topic supports the intensity of the effect. While the other referent in focus serves more like an attribute to the one in subject position. Therefore we introduce our first referent (R1) with a name (e.g. Klempner Friedrich ) to minimize the distance to the participant. The second referent (R2) gets introduced with an indefinite article (e.g. einen befreundeten Bauern ). So one can say we try to put the focus onto the first referent. We expected a higher response to R1 on the one hand with the focusing DPro (Den) in object position and on the other hand by recalling a lead-in sentence in the characterizing predicate sentence (i.e. the one starting with the DPro). Thus we combined these aspects to four conditions (see part for a detailed example), where we expected more or less attention onto the first referent (R1). Thus condition a) should have the highest fixation rate for the referent in discourse topic. The method of eye-tracking was used in this study to check how participants understand the given sentences, as eye movements are intuitive and unconscious. As Cooper (1974) found out that people tend to direct their eye movements to those referents mentioned during an auditory presented discourse. This psycholinguistic procedure is known as the visual world paradigm which Tanenhaus et al. (1996) elaborated. Thus participants automatically fixate the referent they intuitively think is the one meant. Further, eye-tracking allows real-time measurement. 7

8 2 Methods 2.1 Stimuli Visual Stimuli The visual stimuli were made up of 20 pseudo-natural photographs of scenes built with Playmobil (Brandstätter Group, Zirndorf, Germany) figures and objects. The Playmobil figurines used were clearly identifiable by their appearance with respect to the auditory stimuli. Because of their neutral appearance participants were not influenced by mimic or other aspects of human photographs. All scenes contained three human characters. Two of them were male (referents R1 and R2) and mentioned in the auditory stimulus as they were relevant for the experiment. The third person was female and more or less visible in the picture, just serving as a distracter. Other objects and animals that matched the given scene were included to support the pseudo-natural appearance of the scene, to make the scenes more interesting and also as distracters. The two referents, R1 and R2, were equally visible. As an example see Figure 1. Figure 1: Example Image The 20 pictures were taken using a Sony Cybershot DSC V1 5.0 Megapixels (Sony Corp., Tokyo, Japan) digital photo-camera. The distance was kept constant by approximately 121 cm to the horizon from an angle of approximately 20. An InterFit Tungsten 3200 Studio Lamp 8

9 (Paterson Photographic Ltd., Tipton, United Kingdom) with 500 watt was used for lightening. The pictures were used with their native resolution, but cropped to 2560x1600 pixels to match the 30 inch Apple Cinema HD Display (Apple Inc., Cupertino, CA, USA) used during the experiment. Thus each image contained a bar on the left and right of the pictures with the same gray color the screen showed during the fixation point phase (see also part 2.5 Procedure). The modification of the pictures was performed with freeware GIMP (The GNU Image Manipulation Program) gimp Auditory Stimuli For each visual stimulus four short stories in German (i.e. four experimental conditions for each picture) were recorded with a Shure Beta 58A (Shure Incorporated, Niles, IL, USA) microphone and the Logic Audio 5 (Emagic Soft-und Hardware GmbH, Rellingen, Germany) recording system, read out with a neutral masculine voice of a native German speaker. Participants listened to the auditory stimuli via a Logitech 2.1 system (Z3 Style 2.1, Logitech, Switzerland) always at the same moderate volume level. The two speakers were positioned left and right to the screen and the bass speaker on the floor under the desk of the screen. The stories consisted of four sentence beginning with an introduction sentence with two conditions (starting after 1000 ms after the stimulus onset). Either it contained a statement (i) that was picked up later in the critical sentence and was expected to support reference to R1 or a statement (ii) that described the scene in general. Example: (i) Im ganzen Dorf bekannt. (ii) Alle Reparaturen. Then the second sentence introduced the first referent R1 in a familiar way, such as he was known before. It was the same for all conditions (starting at 3062 ms after the stimulus onset). Example: Klempner Friedrich (R1) ist absolut zuverlässig. The third sentence recalled R1 referentially with a PPro and introduced the second referent R2 with an indefinite article (starting at 6000 ms after the stimulus onset). 9

10 Example: Er (R1) repariert für einen befreundeten Bauern (R2) seit Jahren alle Geräte. The fourth sentence started with the critical condition of the reference for one of the two referents, either with the DPro in object position (accusative) Den (iii) or with the DPro in subject position (nominative) Der (iv) (starting at ms after the stimulus onset). Example: (iii) Den (R1/R2) kennt hier im Dorf wirklich jeder. (iv) Der (R1/R2) ist hier im Dorf bei allen bekannt. The fourth sentence started with a PPro that should strengthen the reference of the third sentence, while the statement had no preference for one of the referents (starting at ms after the stimulus onset). Example: Er (R1/R2) ist überall beliebt. Thus the four different auditory stimuli for one scene consist of a combination of the conditions (i) or (ii) and (iii) or (iv), namely condition a) with (i) and (iii), condition b) with (ii) and (iii), condition c) with (i) and (iv), and condition d) with (ii) and (iv). Example: Condition a) (i) Im ganzen Dorf bekannt. Klempner Friedrich (R1) ist absolut zuverlässig. Er (R1) repariert für einen befreundeten Bauern (R2) seit Jahren alle Geräte. (iii) Den (R1/R2) kennt hier im Dorf wirklich jeder. Er (R1/R2) ist überall beliebt. Condition b) (ii) Alle Reparaturen. Klempner Friedrich (R1) ist absolut zuverlässig. Er (R1) repariert für einen befreundeten Bauern (R2) seit Jahren alle Geräte. (iii) Den (R1/R2) kennt hier im Dorf wirklich jeder. Er (R1/R2) ist überall beliebt. 10

11 Condition c) (i) Im ganzen Dorf bekannt. Klempner Friedrich (R1) ist absolut zuverlässig. Er (R1) repariert für einen befreundeten Bauern (R2) seit Jahren alle Geräte. (iv) Der (R1/R2) ist hier im Dorf bei allen bekannt. Er (R1/R2) ist überall beliebt. Condition d) (ii) Alle Reparaturen. Klempner Friedrich (R1) ist absolut zuverlässig. Er (R1) repariert für einen befreundeten Bauern (R2) seit Jahren alle Geräte. (iv) Der (R1/R2) ist hier im Dorf bei allen bekannt. Er (R1/R2) ist überall beliebt. 2.2 Randomization/Balancing Additionally 40 filler stimuli were included. Thus, in sum the participants were presented 60 scenes of which only 1/3 were relevant for the experiment. The fillers always stayed the same. The photographs and recorded sentences were similar to the experiment scenes but did not necessarily contain all the conditions (e.g. two male persons and one female person). Each participant saw each photograph only for one time, but all four conditions were spread over the 20 trials. The conditions were balanced (i.e. five times each condition), such that over all participants all combinations of photographs and conditions appeared in the same amount. The order of the 60 stimuli was complete random and different for every participant. Although always a group of five participants were presented the same stimuli. This whole randomization was computed with MatLab R2008a (MathWorks Inc.). The experiment sessions were conducted at different time points throughout the day. 2.3 Participants 20 native speakers of German (11 female; 9 male) participated in the experiment. All participants were between 20 and 29 years old (mean age: 23.3 years) and had normal or corrected-to-normal vision, except for one subject having red/green deficiency. Most of them were undergraduate and graduate students. There were two workers and one housewife. All of them had at least abitur. The participants took part in the experiment voluntarily and were either paid 5 or earned 1 Versuchpersonenstunde. 11

12 2.4 Apparatus This experiment was performed with the head mounted EyeLink II eye-tracking system (SR Research Ltd. Mississuaga, Ontario, Canada) with a sampling rate of 250 Hz (see Figure 2 below). adjustable headband head-tracking camera eye cameras Figure 2: The EyeLink II eye-tracking system The system includes three cameras of which two film the movement of the eyes and one keeps reference to the screen, such that it can cope with participants natural movements of the head. EyeLink II identifies the pupils of the eye by object recognition and deduces the gaze location from the position of the pupil. The eye-tracker was controlled by a Pentium 4 PC (Dell Inc., Round Rock, TX, USA). An IntelMac (Apple Computers, Cupertino, CA, USA) was used to control the stimulus presentation sequence and to trigger the eye-tracker on each trial. 2.5 Procedure First the participants had to fill out a short questionnaire about general information like some personal data and their visionary ability. The experiment was conducted in a darkened room. The participants were seated in front of the monitor with a distance of 80 cm. The eye-tracker was mounted on the participants head and some general explanations about the eye-tracking method were given, in case it was not already familiar. The eye-tracker and the eye cameras were adjusted manually on the participants heads. In advance to the actual experiment the participant s pupils were calibrated by a nine-point calibration and validation procedure. The participants were instructed to fixate a small grey point in the centre of a ca. 1 cm diameter black circle (i.e. the fixation point) as long as it stayed in one position. During calibration and 12

13 validation the fixation point appeared at random positions on the screen. Fixations on target points were collected by calibration to map raw eye data to either gaze position or HREF data. During the validation target positions were displayed to the participants. Then the difference between the computed fixation position and the fixation position for the target obtained during calibration was measured. This error reflects the gaze accuracy of the calibration (EyeLink II User Manual, 2005). Calibration and validation were proceeded until the mean error for at least one eye was less than or equal to 0.4. Then the eye with the smaller error was used for the experimental measures and the following analysis. The experiment started with a lead in text written on the screen that gave all necessary information for the experiment. The participants were instructed to listen to the recorded sentences carefully and to observe the pictures on the screen according to what they were presented auditory. All instructions were also given verbally by the experimenter (always with the same words and not giving more information than given by the on-screen instructions). Before the first scene and between the other scenes the fixation point appeared and the participants had to fixate it. For every trial at first the image appeared and then the auditory stimulus started 1 second after the visual stimulus onset. The pictures lasted for another 2 more seconds after the auditory stimulus offset. One whole trial was ca. 15 seconds. After all 60 trials (the 20 experimental stimuli and the 40 fillers randomly) had been run through the participants got paid and clarified about the aim of the experiment. Finally another questionnaire concerning the conduction of the experiment was filled out by the experimenter. 2.6 Data Analysis Fixations Fixation locations and times were calculated online by the eye-tracker, where only the data from the better eye (i.e. the one with the lower error rate according to the calibration and validation process) was recorded and later used for the analysis. The fixations were defined as the inverse to a saccade. A saccade is defined in the way that the velocity of an eye movement had to exceed an acceleration threshold of 8000 /sec 2, a velocity threshold of 30 /sec and a deflection threshold of 0.1. Thus the fixation of the eye had to move at least 0.1 from its previous position to be counted as a saccade. 13

14 2.6.2 Statistics Fixations/saccades were measured every 33 milliseconds and therefore summed up to 450 time slots, corresponding to the milliseconds of a whole stimulus. Since the fixation rates during the first three sentences should not be different for the two referents in the four different conditions, the statistical analysis was performed for the time span from to milliseconds. For the ANOVA, we tested whether the data is normally distributed, we conducted a twosided rank sum test of the null hypothesis that data in the vectors x and y are independent samples from identical continuous distributions with equal medians, against the alternative that they do not have equal medians. This rank sum test was done in MatLab and is equivalent to a Mann-Whitney U-test. The significance level was set to = Regions of Interest In order to define the regions of interest within the picture (i.e. the two referents R1 and R2 and the region beyond interest) all images were manipulated again with the gimp freeware. For each image one referent (R1) was covered with one plain color (black) and the other referent (R2) with another plain color (dark red). The covering was performed by hand while the outer borders of the Playmobil figurines were extended a little and free spaces (e.g. between legs) were filled, such that an obvious fixation on a referent could be counted this way although it was not actually placed directly on the figurine itself. The whole background including all other objects was painted white. But the grey bars to the left and right were not changed as they exceeded the pictures and thus were of no interest. An example of this picture modification can be seen in Figure 3. Because of this modification MatLab was able to select the fixations on the regions of interest by recognizing the hexadecimal color notation used in HTML (i.e. black = , dark red = and white = ffffff). Fixations on a specific region were equal to matching with fixations on that specific colored area. 14

15 Figure 3: Regions of interest; R1 = black and R2 = dark red (compare Figure 1) 3 Results We conducted a within participants repeated measures ANOVA (see Figure 4 below) as, 2 (targets: Referent1 vs. Referent2) x 4 (conditions: Condition a), Condition b), Condition c), and Condition d)). The results show that the factor targets was significant, F(1, 19) = 19.62, p <.01. No other significant interaction was found, i.e., all Fs < 1, and all ps >.05. ANOVA Source Sum Sq. d.f. Mean Sq. F Prob>F target condition target*condition Error Total Figure 4: ANOVA By looking at the timecourses for the last 5000 milliseconds (Figures 5-8) one can see that in all conditions the second referent (R2) gets more fixations and is therefore preferred. The participants understood both DPros ( Den and Der ) significantly more to be referring to the second referent. This is supported by the fact that also the PPro ( Er ) led to significant more fixations onto R2. 15

16 Den kennt hier im Dorf wirklich jeder. Er ist überall beliebt. Figure 5: Condition a) for R1 and R2 Den kennt hier im Dorf wirklich jeder. Er ist überall beliebt. Figure 6: Condition b) for R1 and R2 16

17 Der ist hier im Dorf bei allen bekannt. Er ist überall beliebt. Figure 7: Condition c) for R1 and R2 Der ist hier im Dorf bei allen bekannt. Er ist überall beliebt. Figure 8: Condition d) for R1 and R2 The graphs for R2 (Figures 5-8) rise and have a local maximum about 300 milliseconds after the onset of the DPros. These local maxima have values between 20% and 25% for the conditions a), b) and c). But in condition d) there is a peak of ca. 40%. There are also local maxima for R2 after about 300 millisecond of the onset of the PPro of about 20% to 30% in 17

18 all conditions. As the ANOVA already showed, there were no significant differences between the four conditions summed over the last 5000 milliseconds (see also Figures 9 and 10). a)/b) Den kennt hier im Dorf wirklich jeder. Er ist überall beliebt. c)/d) Der ist hier im Dorf bei allen bekannt. Er ist überall beliebt. Figure 9: R1 in all conditions a)/b) Den kennt hier im Dorf wirklich jeder. Er ist überall beliebt. c)/d) Der ist hier im Dorf bei allen bekannt. Er ist überall beliebt. Figure 10: R2 in all conditions 18

19 The table (Figure 11) and the box-plot (Figure 12) below show the mean differences of the fixations onto both referents in each of the four conditions. In all conditions R2 gets significantly more fixations than R1. The mean values are: Condition Referent1 Referent 2 Cond. a) Cond. b) Cond. c) Cond. d) Figure 11: Mean fixation rates for R1 and R2 Timecourse from milliseconds summed over all images and all participants Mean fixation rate values Condition a) Condition b) Condition c) Condition d) Referent1 Referent2 Figure 12: Mean fixation rates for R1 and R2 To get an overview over the difference between the two referents over the entire timecourses, these are shown below in the Figures One can see that R1 only gets significant higher fixation rates when he is mentioned in the second sentence after the onset of the naming at 3062 milliseconds until R2 is mentioned at ca milliseconds. 19

20 Im [...] Dorf bekannt. Klmp Friedr ist [...] zuverlässig. Er repar für einen befr Bauern [...] alle Geräte. Den kennt [...] jeder. Er ist [...] beliebt. Figure 13: condition a) for R1 and R2 Alle Reparaturen. Klmp Friedr ist [...] zuverlässig. Er repar für einen befr Bauern [...] alle Geräte. Den kennt [...] jeder. Er ist [...] beliebt. Figure 14: condition b) for R1 and R2 20

21 Im [...] Dorf bekannt. Klmp Friedr ist [...] zuverlässig. Er repar für einen befr Bauern [...] alle Geräte. Der ist [...] bekannt. Er ist [...] beliebt. Figure 15: condition c) for R1 and R2 Alle Reparaturen. Klmp Friedr ist [...] zuverlässig. Er repar für einen befr Bauern [...] alle Geräte. Der ist [...] bekannt. Er ist [...] beliebt. Figure 16: condition d) for R1 and R2 21

22 The fixation rates for each referent behave similarly in the different conditions over the entire timecourse. There are no significant differences within each referent (see Figure 17 for R1 and Figure 18 for R2). Im [...] Dorf bekannt. Klmp Friedr ist [...] zuverlässig. Er repar für einen befr Bauern [...] alle Geräte. Den kennt [...] jeder. Er ist [...] beliebt. Alle Reparaturen. Klmp Friedr ist [...] zuverlässig. Er repar für einen befr Bauern [...] alle Geräte. Den kennt [...] jeder. Er ist [...] beliebt. Im [...] Dorf bekannt. Klmp Friedr ist [...] zuverlässig. Er repar für einen befr Bauern [...] alle Geräte. Der ist [...] bekannt. Er ist [...] beliebt. Alle Reparaturen. Klmp Friedr ist [...] zuverlässig. Er repar für einen befr Bauern [...] alle Geräte. Der ist [...] bekannt. Er ist [...] beliebt. Figure 17: R1 in all conditions 22

23 Im [...] Dorf bekannt. Klmp Friedr ist [...] zuverlässig. Er repar für einen befr Bauern [...] alle Geräte. Den kennt [...] jeder. Er ist [...] beliebt. Alle Reparaturen. Klmp Friedr ist [...] zuverlässig. Er repar für einen befr Bauern [...] alle Geräte. Den kennt [...] jeder. Er ist [...] beliebt. Im [...] Dorf bekannt. Klmp Friedr ist [...] zuverlässig. Er repar für einen befr Bauern [...] alle Geräte. Der ist [...] bekannt. Er ist [...] beliebt. Alle Reparaturen. Klmp Friedr ist [...] zuverlässig. Er repar für einen befr Bauern [...] alle Geräte. Der ist [...] bekannt. Er ist [...] beliebt. Figure 18: R2 in all conditions 4 Discussion The purpose of this study was to find out whether it is possible to use a demonstrative pronoun (DPro) in German to refer back to the first mentioned referent in a discourse where two ambiguous referents are mentioned. The ambiguity in this case means that both referents are possible antecedents for the pronoun (i.e. two male referents in this study). This was to be investigated with the method of eye-tracking to check on the basis of participants eye movements what antecedent they intuitively and unconsciously would fixate in such a situation. Our hypothesis was that there is a way that the DPro can refer back to the first mentioned referent under certain circumstances. Although in general this hypothesis is contrary to studies that have been conducted before, as they show that the DPro prefers the second referent, that is in focus position, while the first referent, that is the case of discourse topic, gets picked up again more likely with the personal pronoun (PPro). The results of this study do not support our hypothesis. In all sentence combinations (i.e. all 23

24 four conditions) that we observed, and in that we expected to get more or less reference to the first mentioned referent by the DPro, the means of the participants fixations were onto the second mentioned referent (see Figures 5-8). These preference for referent 2 was significant in all conditions, F(1, 19) = 19.62, p <.01; while there were no significant observable differences between the conditions (see Figures 9 and 10), all Fs < 1, and all ps >.05. Thus, the theory of the inaccessibility of the non-subjective antecedent candidate to the DPro seems stronger than any other factor (at least in this study), that tries to overcome that. 5 Conclusion The hypothesis of this study said that there were cases in German where the DPro would refer to a grammatically possible antecedent in subject position (i.e. in case of discourse topic), in discourses with two ambiguous referents as antecedents. As the results show the German DPro cannot refer back to the referent that is in case of discourse topic. But it is significantly understood to refer to the referent in non-subjective focus position. What led to our hypothesis was the example, in which one referent was intuitively picked up by the DPro in German and in which the language use even requires a DPro or at least prefers it. This example could not be translated into a two referent discourse in this study in the way, that again the discourse topic as antecedent was accessible to the DPro. Thus, further work could go into the direction to find suitable translations of the example into discourses with more than one referent; and maybe other ways to try to access the referent in the position of discourse topic with a DPro. 24

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