Look Where my Language Tells You to Look! Tzeltal Word Order Determines Eye Gaze

Monday, 17 February 2014
Gold Coast (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Elisabeth Norcliffe , Max Planck Institute, Nijmegen, Nijmegen, Netherlands
To what extent does the language we speak influence how we plan our utterances? Eye tracking evidence from Tzeltal, a Mayan language, reveals that the uptake of visual information in pictures of simple events is affected by the word order of the to-be-uttered sentence. This indicates that the time course of sentence formulation may be mediated by language-specific grammatical properties. The freer word order of Tzeltal, as compared with English, allows us to see this difference.