An Investigation of Paraphrasing: the Effects of Memory and Complexity
MICHIGAN UNIV ANN ARBOR HUMAN PERFORMANCE CENTER
Pagination or Media Count:
The report reviews the literature to date on paraphrasing, and demonstrates the effect of memory load and sentence complexity on the production of paraphrases. The literature, while incomplete and not focused, points toward an explanation of the effects of similar meaning on performance in terms of extra-grammatical factors such as reference and disposition as well as grammatical factors. That is, a theory of paraphrastic activity must take into account cognitive relations imposed by the Ss as well as general relations describable in linguistic terms. The experiment tested the effects of a memory load versus a non-memory load and the effects of sentence complexity on the production of paraphrases. As memory load and complexity increased, performance, as measured by rated performance, decreased. In general, Ss generated good paraphrases by changing active target sentences into passives. However, this behavior represented only 40 of the paraphrases, and a much smaller percentage of the paraphrases were transformations of the target. Poor paraphrases were characterized by more changes in toto as well as proportionately more deletions. Additional findings are reported.