Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 255-263

Judgments of Processing Load in Japanese: The Effect of NP-ga Sequences

  • Keiko UeharaAffiliated withThe Graduate Center of The City University of New YorkProgram in Linguistics, The Graduate School and University Center, The City University of New York

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This study reports an effect of more than two consecutive noun phrases (NPs) with the same nominative case marker, -ga, on ratings of processability for Japanese multiply center-embedded sentences. The findings imply that the processing overload theory of Babyonyshev and Gibson (1995) requires modification. Although that theory sets the critical limit (beyond which parser breakdown occurs) at four processing load units (PLUs), it appears that the parser is overloaded by anything over five PLUs. where a three NP-ga sequence contributes roughly an additional PLU to processing cost. The evidence also suggests that inherently cased NPs are not cost free.