Day 31, July 6 – Vidushi

I spent the early part of the day still trying to work on the data analysis program, in an attempt to understand why my classification of words based on acceleration did not coincide with what was clearly visible on the graph. I checked the dictionaries being used, whether the times were being correctly assigned, even whether Python correctly carries out the number comparisons (< or >) to no avail. I therefore decided that with the time crunch that seems to be upon us, it would make more sense to start working on the second study. Ideally, I think this second study is supposed to happen next week, which is why I think we should have the texts soon. From what I understand the app side of it is ready to go, so I tried to work on the logistics and the texts side.

The bulk of my work can be seen in this Google Doc, which I started for the purpose of documentation and also so I know what I’m trying to do. I found a number of useful sources to create texts with, but my first instinct is not to create our own texts, but instead use texts that have been shown to cause the effects we are looking for. Since we want to confirm results seen in eye-tracking, I went back to the Rayner papers to see what I could get from his appendices. There is a lot of useful stuff in there, but with a big problem: the length of the text. As we agreed, we want the text to be about as long as in the previous study so we can actually see what the effect is (if we see it). So it seems to me that I have no choice but to write texts that satisfy our conditions. This isn’t ideal, in my opinion. My writing style is probably strange and going to cause confusion where we didn’t intend for it to happen. In addition, in the first study I tried to choose a variety of different texts — an excerpt from a fictional story, a manual for soldering, a Wikipedia article, and so on. If I write the passages for the second study, they will all sound like they came from a novel, unless I try to take excerpts from Wikipedia and turn them into garden path sentences. This is definitely something I want to try but don’t expect to work very well.

So far, I came up with two passages that contain garden path sentences (or don’t, in their simplified versions). I’m going to come up with more tomorrow, hopefully with a larger variety of style/tone. Below is copy-pasted what I have so far:

O is the ordinary version of the text, X is the unexpected version

1X:
The sun had set in the sky by the time the children finished up their chores. True to her word, the new arrival was finally prepared to share her story. The children all took their seats around the fire, and listened. One boy told the story cried. It was a long tale, told in starts and bursts, with names and places that were unfamiliar to all the children, but not to me. Jill told me a white lie will come back to haunt me. I winced as the girl’s story reached its conclusion, finally explaining why she had brought the story to us: the tycoon sold the offshore oil tracts wanted to kill JR. (594)

1O:
The sun had set in the sky by the time the children finished up their chores. True to her word, the new arrival was finally prepared to share her story. The children all took their seats around the fire, and listened. One boy who was told the story cried. It was a long tale, told in starts and bursts, with names and places that were unfamiliar to all the children, but not to me. Jill had told me a white lie will come back to haunt me. I winced as the girl’s story reached its conclusion, finally explaining why she had brought the story to us: the tycoon who was sold the offshore oil tracts wanted to kill JR. (614)
2X:
A burst of wind, and the train pulled up next to the platform. Anxiously tapping his foot, Tom willed the would-be passengers to hurry up from behind his newspaper. The headlines flickered past as he pretended to read: “British left waffles on Falklands,” the front page proclaimed. He tried to swallow his panic and project complete and utter normalcy. He knew that the boat was waiting, and that the old man the boat. Making it to the boat undetected was the only thing he had to accomplish. In a blur of headlines, he got on the next train, “Stolen painting found by tree” obscuring his face. (595)

2O:
A burst of wind, and the train pulled up next to the platform. Anxiously tapping his foot, Tom willed the would-be passengers to hurry up from behind his newspaper. The headlines flickered past as he pretended to read: “British Left waffles on Falklands,” the front page proclaimed. He tried to swallow his panic and project complete and utter normalcy. He knew that the boat was waiting, and that the old people man the boat. Making it to the boat undetected was the only thing he had to accomplish. In a blur of headlines, he got on the next train, “Stolen painting found next to tree” obscuring his face. (607)

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