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Relative clause avoidance: Evidence for a structural parsing principle

Abstract : Three eye movement experiments investigated the processing of the syntactic ambiguity in strings such as the information that the health department provided, where the that-clause can be either a relative clause (RC) or the start of a nominal complement clause (CC; the information that the health department provided a cure). The experiments tested the prediction that comprehenders should avoid the RC analysis because it involves an unforced filler-gap dependency. Readers showed difficulty upon disambiguation toward the RC analysis, and showed facilitated processing of the ambiguous material itself when the CC analysis was available; both patterns suggest rapid initial adoption of the CC analysis in preference to the RC analysis. The strength of the bias of a specific head noun (e.g., information) to appear with a CC did not modulate these effects, nor were these effects reliably modulated by the tendency of an ambiguous string to be completed off-line as a CC or an RC. These results add to the evidence that structural principles guide the processing of filler-gap dependencies
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01648699
Contributor : Carlo Cecchetto <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, July 20, 2021 - 3:51:08 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, July 22, 2021 - 2:42:55 PM

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Adrian Staub, Francesca Foppolo, Caterina Donati, Carlo Cecchetto. Relative clause avoidance: Evidence for a structural parsing principle. Journal of Memory and Language, Elsevier, 2018, 98, pp.26 - 44. ⟨10.1016/j.jml.2017.09.003⟩. ⟨hal-01648699⟩

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