The temporal structure of spoken sentence comprehension in Chinese

Ping Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Three experiments with 60 native Chinese speakers were conducted to examine the temporal structure of spoken sentence comprehension in Chinese. In the two sentence-gating experiments, listeners heard sentence fragments of various sizes, either successively or individually, and decided on the agent role of the sentence. In the agent-naming experiment, listeners repeated aloud the sentence agent upon hearing the sentence. Converging evidence was derived from these experiments indicating the usefulness of sentence gating in tapping into the temporal structure of comprehension and in evaluating listeners' comprehension on the basis of partial information. Results from these experiments show that partial sentence information plays a very important role in Chinese sentence comprehension, and that Chinese listeners integrate incomplete and ungrammatical sentence fragments by reference to complete and grammatical models in the language. It is argued that these processing characteristics reflect properties of the Chinese language in which few morphological, grammatical, and syntactic constraints are placed on the relationships between sentence constituents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-586
Number of pages16
JournalPerception and Psychophysics
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • General Psychology


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