15.2412, Sum: Understandability of Errors

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Mon Aug 30 16:47:28 UTC 2004

LINGUIST List:  Vol-15-2412. Mon Aug 30 2004. ISSN: 1068-4875.

Subject: 15.2412, Sum: Understandability of Errors

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Date:  Sun, 29 Aug 2004 12:26:57 -0400 (EDT)
From:  Noriko Nakanishi <noro3san at mail.goo.ne.jp>
Subject:  Understandability of Errors

-------------------------------- Message 1 -------------------------------

Date:  Sun, 29 Aug 2004 12:26:57 -0400 (EDT)
From:  Noriko Nakanishi <noro3san at mail.goo.ne.jp>
Subject:  Understandability of Errors

Dear Linguists,

Thank you for your help with the research on the ''understandability
of errors'' (Linguist 15.2394). This is an interim report of the
comments that I have received, besides the responses to the

The following is a summary of the comments, advice, and opinions:

1. ''Many of the sentences in the questionnaire are not errors.''
   ''They mean exactly the same as the bracketed sentences.''
   ''One of the items means the opposite to the bracketed sentence.''

1280 samples were taken from 10 different articles that show
''errors'', and categorized into several types of errors.  Then, the
60 items in all were chosen randomly from each category, and
rearranged into random order.  As shown on top of the questionnaire
(NOTE that some have no errors.), some of the items are the ''control
sentences'', the sets of ''grammatically accepted'' sentences.  They
are included in order to keep the credibility of the responses.

2. ''Bear in mind that the responses would be very different depending
on the background of the respondents.''

Yes, I will, so please answer all the questions, as you are, as the
one that carries the linguistic, cultural, or social background as you
do now.  It is not necessary to use your imagination such as ''If I
were an average American...'' and so on.

3. ''If a context or surrounding dialogue was supplied instead of your
bracketed sentence, it would be easier to see how out of place the
sentences may be.''

Thank you for your advice.  I will keep that in mind next time I do
the same kind of research.

4. Definition of the ''understandability level''
''Non-understandable'' and ''misunderstandable,'' ''grammatical
acceptability'' and ''understandability'' should be treated

Non/mis understandability.
Yes, they are different because, in my opinion, when you do not
understand what is said, you can ask again, or do something about it,
where, when you misunderstand what is said, the utterance would be
kept mistaken until you notice that there was some misunderstanding
(though only if you ever notice it.)  It is an interesting topic for
research, but for the time being, I would like to focus on the mental
distance between the intended meaning (bracketed sentences) and your
understanding of the ''error'' sentences.  So if you think the two
sentences are very close, your answer would be ''understandability
Level 1. Very EASY'', and if you think that you cannot relate the two
sentences at all, the answer would be ''Understandability Level
5. Very DIFFICULT.''

''Grammatical acceptability'' and ''understandability''.
The research is to see the seriousness of the errors in the sentences
that are considered ''unaccepted'' in the articles mentioned above.
Please indicate your opinion about how easily you can associate the
two sentences, NOT about the grammatical correctness of the sentences.

5. ''Why don't you remove the 'view the result' button?''

The on-line questionnaire is a rental web page, and the system person
says that the basic style of the form cannot be altered, because there
are other people using the same form, and an alteration would also
affect all the other pages.  I am sorry about the confusion, I should
have noticed the inconvenience of the system, and tried some other
rental pages, before letting out the questionnaire.  As some of you
mentioned in the mail, I am afraid I have lost quite a few responses
from the ones who viewed the previous result and did not actually
submit the responses.  If you are the respondent who entered your
e-mail address at the end of the questionnaire and not sure whether
your response was submitted or not, please try again: The first one of
the responses with an identical e-mail address will be omitted.  Also,
it means, if you change your mind about your answers that you have
already submitted, you can re-submit your response.

Finally, special thanks to the one who pointed out the misspelling of
a word in my HP (the left column.)  6. ''Please submit you
responce...'' should be ''Please submit your response...'' I corrected
it as soon as I read your mail.

I would very much like to say a lot more and ask for your ideas, but
wait until all 300 responses are gathered, because I feel that it is
not fair if the debate here affects the decisions of the subsequent

As of Aug. 29,
67 more responses from the native speakers of Japanese,
15 more responses from the native speakers of English, and,
70 more responses from the speakers of other languages
are awaited.

If you have any respondent-to-be-acquaintance on your mind, please
help me by giving them the URL below:

I will post my hypothesis and the result after the sufficient number
of responses are gathered.  Thank you again for your cooperation.

Noriko Nakanishi

Subject-Language: English; Code: ENG

LINGUIST List: Vol-15-2412

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