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Correlating cognitive effort and noun role in spoken Japanese

Kevin Heffernan EMAIL logo

Abstract

Models of language processing assume that the cognitive cost to integrate a noun with a verb depends on the distance between the noun and the verb. Such models predict that subjects require more cognitive effort than objects in SOV languages, such as Japanese. This study tests that prediction by investigating apparent cognitive effort differences in topic, nominative, accusative, dative, genitive, and predicative noun usage, using two corpora of spoken Japanese. A cognitive effort index score was determined for each text in the two corpora. The correlations between index scores and usage rates for each grammatical role were determined. Accusative, dative, and genitive noun usage significantly correlated with cognitive effort index scores, but topic, nominative, and predicate noun usage rates did not. These results suggest that the cognitive cost of noun integration depends not only on distance but also on the grammatical role of the noun.


Corresponding author: Kevin Heffernan, School of Policy Studies, Kwansei Gakuin University, 2-1 Gakuen, Sanda, Hyogo, 669-1337, Japan, E-mail:

Award Identifier / Grant number: 17K02761

Acknowledgments

An earlier version of was presented at the fourth Asia Pacific Corpus Linguistics Conference, held in Takamatsu City, Japan from Sept. 17 to 19, 2018. I am indebted to participants for valuable feedback, and to the many research assistants who recorded, transcribed, and corrected the KVJ corpus data. I am also indebted to the three reviewers who pointed out many errors, inconsistencies, and shortcomings. This research was sponsored by Grant in Aid for Scientific Research (C) 17K02761 from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. The KVJ corpus data and the Python scripts used in this study may be downloaded from https://sites.google.com/view/kvjcorpus.

Appendix

The following four speech samples were extracted from approximately the midpoint of four texts in the Corpus of Kansai Vernacular Japanese. The texts were first ranked from highest cognitive effort score to lowest cognitive effort score. Two pairs of texts were then chosen so that each pair of speakers matched for age and gender, but maximally differed in their cognitive effort rank. The speech of the interviewers is included for completeness, and is indicated by [i]. The speech of the speaker is indicated by a capital letter.

Speaker A

Text: KSJ062, 18-year-old female

Cognitive effort rank: 5

[i] なるほど。じゃあ、もう一つの話のこと聞かして。 [A] うん。空色スケッチブックの方は、あれは私が中三の時に連載してた、文芸同好会の、月一で出してたんやけど、連載してた話で、これもやっぱりいい意味でも悪い意味でも、すごい、心に残る話やったな、って思う。当時中三の文芸同好会は、私が主宰でやったんやけど。まあ、先輩らが卒業してから、うちらの代に移った時に、まあ、私がなんか知らんけど会長に、いって、やってたら、まあそれ最終的は小説になったんやけど、最初はそれ漫画やったんよ。

Translation

[i] Oh, I see. Tell me another story. [A] Yeah. Well, the sky blue sketchbook, that was published when I was in grade 9, in the Arts and Literature Club, they put out a booklet on the first of every month. I thought that the published stories were stories that really left an impression, in both good ways and bad ways. At that time, I was the club president. Well, when sempai had all graduated and it became our turn, you know, I’m sure why, but it became me. Anyway, in the end that became a novel, but at first it was a comic.

Speaker B

Text: KSJ124, 17-year-old female

Cognitive effort rank: 112

[B] これ、男子や。 [i] 貸して。 [B] これ、ほら。 [i] なんで? [B] 県やからちゃう? [i] そうや普通に、これ四つ角関係無いやつちゃうん。 [B] そうなん。抽選だけってこと? [i] 抽選やと思う。でも、一番いいところの、やっぱ運だけはもってんな。 [B] 先生? [i] やっぱ、日ごろの行いやで。だってさ、被ったことないもん。被ったところてかさ、なんかその、もう絶対負けるところにあんま行かへん。 [B] それ嫌じゃない?だって、ほんとはずれとったら、ベスト4までいけたかもしれへんのにさ。 [i] そやで。そやで。

Translation

[B] This is a guy. [i] Give it here. [B] Look, there. [i] Why is that? [B] Maybe because it was prefectural? [i] Oh yeah, normally, this has nothing to do due with the four corners, right? [B] Yeah, you mean by draw only? [i] I think the teams were drawn. But we got really lucky one time. [B] The teacher? [i] Just in our regular matches, we were never beaten. I mean, like, we never really went up against a team that we would for sure lose against. [B] But doesn’t that suck? Like, if you miss those ones, then you can make it to the top four. [i] Yeah, totally.

Speaker C

Text: KSJ137, 63-year-old male

Cognitive effort rank: 7

[C] で、兵庫県は結構強かってん。いつもベスト3には入るチームやったからもう5月の辺りからクラブチームが週末になったら土日、土日合宿してくんや。 [i] まー秋に向けてね。[C] 秋に向けて。ほんで強かったし。で、僕が入って監督に変わってすぐに優勝したりして、その翌年もその大会を目指して合宿してたらいつも合宿所まーちょっと神戸の民宿の方に合宿所があるねんけどそこの合宿所で土曜日ね仕事、まーあの頃はまだ半ドンで土曜日言うても午前中は勤務で、で、昼から休みで日曜日休みと。

Translation

[C] Hyogo prefecture was quite strong. We were a team that always made it to the top three, and so from about May onwards, on the weekend the club team did an intensive training camp for the weekend. [i] Getting ready for the fall. [C] Getting ready for the fall. And so that’s why we were strong. And so soon after I joined and became the coach, we won the championship, and so the next year too, we were trying to take home the trophy again, and so we went to our usual place. There is a training camp out in Kobe, and so on Saturdays and Sundays, I mean, at the time, Saturdays were half-days so there was still work in the morning, but then the afternoon was off and Sundays too.

Speaker D

Text: KSJ137, 66-year-old male

Cognitive effort rank: 117

[i] 植物育てるとかはあった?理科とか、あさがおとか。それは個人ででもいいけど。 [D] 小学校のときに、なんだっけ、クロッカス。 [i] クロッカス? [D] 球根をなんか育てた。なんか買わされて、育ててた覚えはある。 [i] それは、観察日記をつけてね、みたいな感じ?[D] そんな感じ。 [i] おしゃれやね、クロッカス。 [D] おしゃれなんか知らんけど。 [i] 私らはあさがおとかやったから。 [D] 楽でいいやん。ずっと置いとくだけやん。 [i] そっか。球根で。観察日記とか書いた? [D] 書いたんちゃう?覚えてない。

Translation

[i] Have you ever grown any plants? As a science project, grow morning glories? Or just on your own? [D] Yeah, in primary school, what was it, crocus. [i] Crocus? [D] We grew them from bulbs. I remember having to buy one and grow it. [i] So did you keep an observation journal or something like that? [D] Yeah, something like that. [i] Crocuses are handsome. [D] I don’t know if you’d call them handsome. [i] We grew morning glories. [D] Those are so easy. You just put them there. [i] Really? From a bulb, eh? So, did you have to keep an observation journal? [D] We did that, didn’t we? I really don’t remember.

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Published Online: 2021-10-07
Published in Print: 2021-11-25

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