Advertisement

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
Article

Abstract

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).

Keywords

Cognitive Psychology Complex Chain Processing Effect Processing Dissociation Dependency Type 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Chomsky, N. (1981).Lectures on government and binding. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Foris.Google Scholar
  2. Chung, S. (1994).Wh-agreement and “Referentiality” in Chamorro.Linguistic Inquiry, 25, 1–44.Google Scholar
  3. Cinque, G. (1992).Types of A' dependencies, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  4. Crain, S., & Steedman, M. (1985). On not being led up the garden path: The use of context by the psychological parser. In D. Dowty, L. Kartunnen, & A. Zwicky (Eds.),Natural language parsing. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  5. De Vincenzi, M. (1990). Processing ofwh-dependencies in a null-subject language: Referential and nonreferentialwhs. In B. Plunkett (Ed.),UMOP 15 Psycholinguistics (pp. 91–118), GLSA Publications. Amherst, MA.Google Scholar
  6. De Vincenzi, M. (1991).Syntactic parsing strategies in Italian. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  7. Enc, M. (1991). The semantics of specificity.Linguistic Inquiry, 22, 1–25.Google Scholar
  8. Engdahl, E. (1980).Wh-constructions in Swedish and the relevance of subjacency.North Eastern Linguistics Society, 10, 89–108, Amherst, MA: GLSA Publications.Google Scholar
  9. Fodor, J. (1994). Extraction without traces.Proceedings of WCCFL 13 (Western Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics).Google Scholar
  10. Frazier, L. (1987). Processing syntactic structures: Evidence from Dutch.Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, 5, 519–559.Google Scholar
  11. Frazier, L., & Clifton, C. (1989). Successive cyclicity in the grammar and the parser.Language and Cognitive Processes, 4, 93–126.Google Scholar
  12. Frazier, L., & Flores D'Arcais, G. B. (1989). Filler-driven parsing: A study of gap-filling in Dutch.Journal of Memory and Language, 28, 331–344.Google Scholar
  13. Frazier, L., & Fodor, J. D. (1978). The sausage machine: A new two-stage parsing model.Cognition, 6, 291–326.Google Scholar
  14. Gibson, E. (1994). Processing empty categories: A parallel approach, inJournal of Psycholinguistic Research, 23, 381–405.Google Scholar
  15. Hickok, G. (1993). Parallel parsing: Evidence from reactivation in garden-path sentences.Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 22, 239–250.Google Scholar
  16. Hickok, G., & Avrutin, S. (in press). Comprehension ofwh-questions in two Broca's aphasies.Brain and Language.Google Scholar
  17. Kimball, J. (1977). Seven principles of surface structure parsing in natural language.Cognition 2, 15–47.Google Scholar
  18. Nicol, J., & Swinney, D. (1989). The role of structure in coreference assignment during sentence comprehension.Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 18, 5–19.Google Scholar
  19. Pesetsky, D. (1987).Wh-in-situ: Movement and unselective binding. In A. Ter Meulen & E. Reuland (Eds.),Representation of (in) definiteness. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  20. Pickering, M., & Barry, G. (1991). Sentence processing without empty categories.Language and Cognitive Processes, 6, 229–259.Google Scholar
  21. Pritchett, B. (1988). Garden path phenomena and the grammatical basis of language processing.Language, 64, 539–576.Google Scholar
  22. Read, C., Kraak, A., & Boves, L. (1980). The interpretation of ambiguouswho-questions in Dutch: The effect of intonation. In F. Zonneveldt & F. Weerman (Eds.),Linguistics in the Netherlands 1977–1979. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: The Netherlands Foris.Google Scholar
  23. Rizzi, L. (1982).Issues in Italian syntax. Dordrecht: Foris.Google Scholar
  24. Rizzi, L. (1990).Relativized minimality, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  25. Sag, I. & Fodor, J. (1995). Extraction without traces.Proceedings of WCCFL 13 (Western Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics) (pp. 365–384). R. Aranovich, W. Byrne, S. Preuss, and M. Senturia (Eds). Stanford, CA: Stanford Linguistics Association.Google Scholar
  26. Sekerina, I. (1995).Ambiguity and scrambling in Russian syntactic processing. Paper presented at 8th CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing, Tucson, Arizona-March.Google Scholar
  27. Stowe, L. (1986). Parsingwh-constructions.Language and Cognitive Processes, 2, 227–246.Google Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations