Number Agreement Attraction in Czech and English Comprehension: A Direct Experimental Comparison

Jan Chromý, Charles Faculty of Arts, Prague, Czechia, Anna Laurinavichyute, Radim Lacina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review


Number agreement attraction in comprehension is a phenomenon that has been documented in various typologically diverse languages. This evidence has led to claims about the cross-linguistic uniformity of agreement attraction effects and its independence from the grammatical features of a particular language. However, recent research has shown that in Czech, number agreement attraction effects are either absent or negligible in size. This directly contradicts the cross-linguistic uniformity hypothesis. The current paper aims to further corroborate this finding and presents a direct experimental comparison of Czech and English. Two comparable self-paced reading experiments were conducted using stimuli that were translation equivalents in Czech and English. Our analyses demonstrate a preference for the null model in Czech (no agreement attraction), unlike in English, where an interaction between verb number and attractor number was preferred. Moreover, when we compare the data from the two experiments directly, we find that the interaction between language and attraction was also preferred. In sum, we provide evidence against the cross-linguistic uniformity hypothesis for agreement attraction effects and suggest that processing patterns may differ between languages even for almost identical structures, such as agreement relations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalGlossa Psycholinguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2023


  • Number agreement
  • Agreement attraction
  • Language comprehension
  • Czech language
  • English language
  • Syntax
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Experimental linguistics
  • Cross-linguistic comparison
  • Sentence processing


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