An artificial opposition between grammaticality and frequency: Comment on Bornkessel, Schlesewsky & Friederici (2002)
Kempen, G., & Harbusch, K.
An artificial opposition between grammaticality and frequency: Comment on Bornkessel, Schlesewsky & Friederici (2002). Cognition, 90
(2), 205-210 [Rectification on p. 215]. doi:10.1016/S0010-0277(03)00145-8.
In a recent Cognition paper (Cognition 85 (2002) B21), Bornkessel, Schlesewsky, and Friederici report ERP data that they claim “show that online processing difficulties induced by word order variations in German cannot be attributed to the relative infrequency of the constructions in question, but rather appear to reflect the application of grammatical principles during parsing” (p. B21). In this commentary we demonstrate that the posited contrast between grammatical principles and construction (in)frequency as sources of parsing problems is artificial because it is based on factually incorrect assumptions about the grammar of German and on inaccurate corpus frequency data concerning the German constructions involved.