Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 117–133 | Cite as

Syntactic analysis in sentence comprehension: Effects of dependency types and grammatical constraints

  • Marica De Vincenzi


This paper presents three experiments on the parsing of Italian wh-questions that manipulate the wh-type (whovs. which-N)and the whextraction site (main clause, dependent clause with or without complementizer). The aim of these manipulations is to see whether the parser is sensitive to the type of dependencies being processed and whether the processing effects can be explained by a unique processing principle, the minimal chain principle (MCP; De Vincenzi, 1991). The results show that the parser, following the MCP, prefers structures with fewer and less complex chains. In particular: (1) There is a processing advantage for the wh-subject extractions, the structures with less complex chains; (2) there is a processing dissociation between the whoand which questions; (3) the parser respects the principle that governs the well-formedness of the empty categories (ECP).


Cognitive Psychology Complex Chain Processing Effect Processing Dissociation Dependency Type 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marica De Vincenzi
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Psychology of the National Research Council (CNR)RomeItaly

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