Linguistic expectation management in online discourse processing: An investigation of Dutch inderdaad ‘indeed’ and eigenlijk ‘actually’


Interpersonal discourse particles (DPs), such as Dutch inderdaad (≈‘indeed’) and eigenlijk (≈‘actually’) are highly frequent in everyday conversational interaction. Despite extensive theoretical descriptions of their polyfunctionality, little is known about how they are used by language comprehenders. In two visual world eyetracking experiments involving an online dialogue completion task, we asked to what extent inderdaad, confirming an inferred expectation, and eigenlijk, contrasting with an inferred expectation, influence real-time understanding of dialogues. Answers in the dialogues contained a DP or a control adverb, and a critical discourse referent was replaced by a beep; participants chose the most likely dialogue completion by clicking on one of four referents in a display. Results show that listeners make rapid and fine-grained situation-specific inferences about the use of DPs, modulating their expectations about how the dialogue will unfold. Findings further specify and constrain theories about the conversation-managing function and polyfunctionality of DPs.

Journal of Memory and Language, 103, 191-209, doi:10.1016/j.jml.2018.08.004
Hans Rutger Bosker
Hans Rutger Bosker
Assistant Professor

My research interests include speech perception, audiovisual integration, and prosody.