I am currently executing my NWO Veni research project ‘Great expectations: Discourse markers of (counter-) expectation in sentence processing’ at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen. In this project I investigate the role of expectation marking in language. When we produce language, we can linguistically respond to contextual expectations by means of discourse markers (DMs). For instance, when we say Maria is eigenlijk een man ‘Maria is actually a man’, we use eigenlijk to indicate that this utterance is not in line with the most plausible expectation that someone called Maria is a woman. In theoretical linguistics, DMs are viewed as conversation managing tools; as such, they are assumed to make communication more efficient. My project experimentally investigates this theoretically assumed function of DMs. By means of (Visual World) eye-tracking and EEG, I examine to what extent DMs of (counter-) expectation facilitate incremental sentence interpretation during listening.
As part of my research project, I visited the department of Brain and Cognitive Science at the University of Rochester in Spring 2015 and Summer 2016.