Cross-cultural Differences in Linguistic Reference Tracking

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In order to comprehend what is being said in discourse, a listener or reader must be able to follow what is being referred to at any given point and recognize when different expressions are all referring to the same thing. This study will use eye-tracking to trace participants’ shifts in attentional focus among objects in the visual field while they listen to portions of narrative descriptions as audio clips. The clips will contain instances of zero anaphora within segments of one to three sentences, and the visual field will contain images from the video for participants to search among for candidate referents. The traces of gaze-fixation and saccades will be used as metrics of whether participants know who or what is being referred to and of which other objects are the most prominent distracters. If there are consistent patterns, it may be possible to infer what reference resolution strategies are being used and to develop interventions for helping second language learners develop their proficiency more rapidly.




Saner, L. D., & Hefright, B. (2015). Cross-cultural Differences in Linguistic Reference Tracking. Procedia Manufacturing, 3, 4022–4027.

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