Decomposing Gradience: Quantitative versus Qualitative Distinctions

Matthias Schlesewsky, Ina Bornkessel, Brian Mcelree

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter characterizes the critical phenomena from a behavioural perspective before turning to experimental methods, yielding more finegrained data. It examines how linguistic judgments emerge from the realtime comprehension processes by drawing upon studies of word order variation in German. Based on a number of empirical observations, it argues that gradient data need not be interpreted as evidence against categorical grammars. Instead, gradience can come from a complex interaction between grammar-internal requirements, processing mechanisms, general cognitive constraints, and the environment within which the judgment task is performed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGradience in Grammar
Subtitle of host publicationGenerative Perspectives
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191705861
ISBN (Print)0199274797, 9780199274796
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010


  • Categorical grammar
  • German
  • Gradience
  • Qualitative distinctions
  • Quantitative distinctions
  • Word order

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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