April 20th: Monica Do

Adjective Ordering Preferences: From Conceptual Roots to Linguistic Strings

Monica Do, The University of Chicago

Tuesday, Apr 20 2021, 16:00-12:00 BST
Zoom Details: [Please Request]

When a noun is modified by more than one adjective, there is typically a preferred order in which adjectives appear (Dixon, 1982). Speakers follow this order intuitively, whether they speak a pre-nominal language like English (e.g., “red leather jacket”) or a post-nominal language like Vietnamese (e.g., “jacket red leather”). The current work asks where do these Adjective Ordering Preferences (AOPs) come from and how they interact with the process of uttering a multi-adjective string? In an initial set of studies in English, I first provide evidence that AOPs in reflect biases in speakers’ non-linguistic conceptual representation of the entity they are talking about. I then show how factors related to lexical accessibility of an adjective can modulate biases in speakers’ conceptual representations of objects and their attributes during real time language production. Together, these studies (i) shed light on the psychological underpinnings of AOPs; (ii) bridge domains of research that have historically been pursued completely independent of each other; and (iii) further our current knowledge of the relationship between thought and language.

Suggested Readings:
1. Papafragou & Grigoroglou (2019): This paper does not pertain to adjectives, specifically, but provides a broad overview of the processes involved in language production processes, as well as the relationship between linguistic and conceptual representations that I assume in my work.

2. Trotzke & Wittenberg (2019): This recent overview article introduces other work that looks at the question of AOPs from a more theoretical perspective. For our purposes, it provides a brief introduction to the problem presented by AOPs and a glimpse into the types of issues under investigation in the AOP literature.