Turkish as a grammaticalized language: the effect of factivity alternation and certainty on theory of mind understanding
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The majority of studies investigating the relation between language and socio-cognitive understanding have been designed for and carried out with participants from Western cultures (Milligan et al., 2007). Recently, there is emerging interest in studying the relation between cultural-linguistic nuances and social understanding (Choi, 2006; Matsui, Yamamoto & McCagg, 2006). Many linguistic features found in languages such as Japanese, Korean, or Turkish are integral to the syntactic complexity of these languages and express epistemic stances towards reality or others’ propositions. The current thesis included two studies investigating adult native Turkish speakers’ sensitivity to the certainty of propositions based on grammatical structure and whether their sensitivity is related to their theory of mind abilities. The results showed that Turkish speakers are sensitive to (a) factivity alternation, meaning they display different levels of epistemic certainty based on the grammatical framing of the verb to know (Studies 1 & 2) (b) morphological certainty markers (Study 2). However, participants’ sensitivity to epistemic certainty was unrelated to ToM abilities as assessed by the Faux Pas task (Study 1 & 2), and epistemic bias as assessed by the Contamination Task (Study 1). The results are discussed with their implications, especially for future work with younger samples.