Does verb transitivity influence word association responses?
Although several studies have investigated the influence of the grammatical class of cue words on response patterns in the word association task, relatively little is known about the influence of more fine-grained distinctions such as cue transitivity. The present study tests two predictions, made in existing studies, of the influence of this variable. The first is that cue transitivity would influence the grammatical class of responses; the second, that it would affect the directionality of position-based, or syntagmatic, responses. English language associative responses to 49 transitive and 49 intransitive cues were gathered from 53 English L1 respondents. These responses were then analysed according to their grammatical class and categorical designation. Results suggested that cue transitivity influences both of these measurements: transitive cues yielded more noun responses and more associations classified as likely to follow the cue in text than did intransitives, while transitives received more verb responses and more associations likely to precede the cue. These results are discussed in the light of contiguity-based and semantic theories of the determinants of word association.
Keywords: word association, transitivity, grammatical class, co-occurrence, semantics
Published online: 22 January 2021
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