Seeing events vs. entities: The processing advantage of Pseudo Relatives over Relative Clauses
CĂ©line Pozniak, Barbara Hemforth, Yair Haendler, Andrea Santi, Nino Grillo
June 2018

We present the results of three offline questionnaires (one attachment preference study and two acceptability judgments) and two eye-tracking studies in French and English investigating the resolution of the ambiguity between Relative Clause and Pseudo Relative interpretations. This structural and interpretive ambiguity has recently been shown to play a central role in the explanation of apparent cross-linguistic asymmetries in Relative Clause attachment (Grillo & Costa, 2014; Grillo et al., 2015). This literature has argued that Pseudo Relatives are preferred to Relative Clauses because of their structural and interpretive simplicity. This paper adds to this growing body of literature in two ways. First we show that, in contrast to previous findings, French speakers prefer to attach Relative Clauses to the most local antecedent once Pseudo Relative availability is controlled for. We then provide a direct test for the Pseudo Relatives preference, showing that Relative Clause disambiguation of strings that are initially compatible with a Pseudo Relative interpretation leads to degraded acceptability and longer fixation durations.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/004054
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Under review
keywords: universalityofparsingprinciples, ambiguityresolution, economyof computation, locality, attachment preferences, (pseudo) relative clauses, syntax
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