The effects of phrase-length order and scrambling in the processing of visually presented Japanese sentences

Katsuo Tamaoka*, Hiromu Sakai, Jun Ichiro Kawahara, Yayoi Miyaoka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The present study investigated the effects of phrase length and scrambling in the processing of Japanese sentences. Reading times of short phrases, long phrases, verbs, and whole sentences, measured by the method of self-paced reading, did not differ in terms of phrase-length order and scrambling. In addition, four types of sentences constructed on the basis of phrase-length order and scrambling did not affect duration times of correctness decision-making for sentences. However, error rates differed between canonical and scrambled sentences regardless of phrase-length order. This result implies that scrambled sentences were harder to judge as correct sentences than canonical sentences. Thus, scrambling affects the appropriate integration of information, whereas phrase-length order is simply an indication of preference and not of cognitive processing. To explain the present result, the authors propose the "configurational structure without movement," which predicts no difference in speed between the processing of canonical and scrambled sentences, apart from error rates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-454
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Psycholinguistic Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Jul
Externally publishedYes


  • Phrase-length order
  • Scrambling
  • Sentence processing
  • Syntactic structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Linguistics and Language


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