Acrisio Pires, Jon Brennan, Dr. Tamarae Hildebrandt, Julie Boland, and Marlyse Baptista

Congratulations to Dr. Tamarae Hildebrandt, who successfully defended her PhD dissertation and obtained her PhD this Fall!

Dissertation title: The Relationship between Online and Offline Measures of Gradient Sentence Acceptability

Committee Co-Chairs: Jononathan Brennan (chair), Marlyse Bapstita, Julie Boland, and Acrisio Pires

ABSTRACT: Experiments using electroencephalography (EEG) and self-paced reading (SPR) usually collect online and offline measures in separate tasks and typically at different points. Current research in psycholinguistic and neurolinguistic has separately shown that gradience exists in both offline acceptability judgments and online measures. Analyzing these measures separately limits our understanding of the relationship between online and offline measures and how gradience affects the relationship.

In this dissertation, I investigate whether gradience in offline acceptability judgments show proportional gradience in online measures. This dissertation focuses on two target syntactic constructions: 1) a construction argued to exhibit gradient acceptability and 2) a dialectal construction from the US midlands. The first construction was examined in two experiments using two online measures, event-related potentials and reading times (Chapter 2 and Chapter 4). The second construction was examined in one experiment only using reading times (Chapter 5). In all three experiments, participants read sentences using the rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) or the self-paced reading (SPR) protocols and the participants immediately rated the acceptability of the sentence on a 4-point Likert Scale, where 1 is unacceptable and 4 is acceptable.

The results of the experiments suggest that a slight negative correlation between the online and offline measures in SPR studies, but not in EEG. The EEG study only showed a reliable negative correlation for the subject-verb agreement construction and the SPR chapters (Chapter 4 and Chapter 5) showed a reliable negative correlation for all constructions.

Additionally, language experience based on geographical location did not modulate this negative correlation between online and offline measures in the dialectal construction using SPR via internet collection. This dissertation contributes to our understanding of how gradience within a syntactic construction, the type of online measure, and language experience impacts the relationship between online and offline measures.