Lanaguage Research
Language Education Institute, Seoul National University

The Role of Frequency in the Processing of giving and receiving Events in Korean

Hongoak Yun1, Eunkyung Yi2,
*Corresponding Author : Lecturer, Department of English Language and Literature, College of Humanities, Seoul National University 1 Kwanak-ro, Kwanak-gu, Seoul, 08826, Korea, E-mail:

ⓒ Copyright 2019 Language Education Institute, Seoul National University. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Received: Mar 13, 2019 ; Revised: Apr 28, 2019 ; Accepted: May 03, 2019

Published Online: Aug 31, 2019


This study aimed to examine the processing benefits of frequency information associated with the case marker -eykey in comprehending Korean declarative sentences. By using a picture description task in which pictures ambiguously illustrated either a giving event (-eykeyRECcwuta ‘give … to’) or a receiving event (-eykeySOURCEpatta ‘receive … from’), we found that giving events were predominantly preferred to receiving events. The results of the online sentence comprehension study revealed that 1) give-type verbs were integrated into sentences faster than receive-type verbs overall and 2) the reading-time differences between the verb types were significant when role NPs were canonically ordered (NP-eykey … NP-(l)ul) but not when they were noncanonically presented (NP-(l)ul … NP-eykey). We claim that structural and semantic frequency bias associated with -eykey facilitates readers’ anticipatory processing in the integration of upcoming information. We further discuss how the processing differences in giving and receiving events might attribute to the argument-adjunct distinction between recipients and sources.

Keywords: frequency; ambiguity in thematic role assignment; case marker; Korean sentence comprehension



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