This paper examines the role of word frequency in the computation of subject-verb number agreement. Previous research in both production and comprehension has demonstrated that processing difficulties can arise in sentence structures containing a singular subject noun followed by a plural "distractor" noun, as in The key to the cabinets…. A whole sentence reading task was employed to determine whether the relative frequency with which the distractor noun appears in its singular or plural form would affect the degree of processing difficulty experienced by readers. Results suggest that the agreement process is, indeed, sensitive to this factor and this finding is compatible with activation-based accounts of the implementation of number agreement.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Language and Linguistics
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Linguistics and Language