Processing of Active Sentences with Different Accusative Markers /ta/ Accusatives vs. /va/ Accusatives in Spoken Sinhala language

A. B. Prabath Kanduboda


This paper examines whether active sentences with different accusative markers illustrate identical circumstances when processing canonical ordered sentences and scramble ordered sentences. Specifically, this study focuses on Double Object Markers (DOM) phenomenon in Sinhala language with relation to sentence processing. Sinhala language is said to possess DOM for active sentences consisting of transitive verbs (/ta/ and /va/). Previous studies in experimental linguistics in Sinhala language have examined the canonical word order in active sentences consisting of transitive verbs with /ta/ accusatives, and have provided evidence that the canonical word order is decided based on the information provided by grammatical functions (Subject-Object-Verb). Since /va/ and /ta/ accusatives accompany different verbs, it is important to examine the sentences with /va/ accusatives in order to ascertain the fact that the canonical word order is constructed according to the grammatical information (i.e., Subject-Object-Verb) in all active sentences consisting of transitive verbs in the spoken form of the Sinhala language. Thus, this study conducted two experiments (EX#1 with /va/ accusatives, and EX#2 with /ta/ accusatives) using the nature of scrambling effects to seek whether SOV word order remains canonical and grammatical functions still provide necessary information to determine the canonical word order. A series of one-way ANOVAs was conducted on reaction times and error rates of the responses. The results show that the canonical order remains Subject-Object-Verb for active sentences consisting of transitive verbs with /va/ accusatives which in turn suggest that the information of grammatical function is still applicable regardless of different accusative types in active sentences of the Sinhala language.

Key words - /ta/ Accusatives, /va/ Accusatives, Scrambling effects, Canonical order, Scrambled order

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