Grammar modulates discourse expectations: Evidence from causal relations in English and Korean

Eunkyung Yi, Jean Pierre Koenig

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3 Scopus citations


This paper investigates whether differences in grammar affect the production of discourse relations. We report the results of two story continuation experiments on speakers of two typologically unrelated languages, English and Korean, and in two different discourse genres, monologues (Experiment 1) and conversations (Experiment 2), focusing on the contrast between the explanation discourse relation and the result discourse relation. Since the grammar of clause linkage in Korean, but not English, disfavors a backward causal order (explanation relation), we predicted that Korean speakers are less likely to produce EXPLANATION continuations in MONOLOGUES than English speakers. We also predicted that this difference disappears in conversation, as questions that can be uttered in conversations are not subject to the same constraints on clause linkage in Korean. The results confirmed our predictions. The effect of language on the production of discourse relations in monologue suggests that LINGUISTIC STRUCTURES can affect speakers' discourse expectation and production, while the absence of language effect in conversation suggests that this language effect is not due to differences in the way speakers causally relate events or to conceptual or cultural differences in preferences for iconic discourse between English and Korean speakers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-127
Number of pages29
JournalLanguage and Cognition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

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  • conversation
  • cross-linguistic difference
  • discourse expectation
  • discourse relations
  • English
  • explanation
  • forward and backward causal relations
  • Korean
  • monologue
  • result


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