Animacy information outweighs morphological cues in Russian

Anastasia Stoops, Steven G. Luke, Kiel Christianson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study examined the robustness of morphosyntactic information (inflectional case marking) vs. semanticinformation (animacy) in non-canonical SOV-and-V structures in Russian, a morphologically rich language withrelatively free word order. Results from a self-paced moving window paradigm followed by a comprehension questionindicated that case marking was a relatively weak cue during online reading and offline comprehension compared toanimacy, which was relied upon heavily throughout. The results suggest that even in languages with rich inflectionalmorphology, morphosyntax is fragile. Furthermore, the results provide support for memory-based models ofsentence processing in which similarity-induced interference affects memory for previously encountered constituentsand the integration of incoming material.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)584-604
Number of pages21
JournalLanguage, Cognition and Neuroscience
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2014


  • Animacy
  • Morphosyntactic processing
  • Morphosyntax
  • Self-paced reading
  • Semantic processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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