Grammar and Parsing: A Typological Investigation of Relative-Clause Processing
AuthorLin, Chien-Jer Charles
Committee ChairBever, Thomas G.
Hill, Jane H.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation investigates the role of grammar and parsing in processing relative clauses across languages. A parsing theory called the Incremental Minimalist Parser (IMP), which parses sentences incrementally from left to right, is sketched based on the Minimalist Program (Chomsky, 2001, 2005). We provide sentence processing evidence which supported a universal parsing theory that is structure-based. According to IMP (and other structure-based theories), a gap located at the subject position is more easily accessed than a gap located at the object position in both head-initial (e.g. English) and head-final (e.g. Mandarin) relative clauses. Experiment 1 (self-paced reading tasks) showed a processing advantage for Mandarin relative clauses that involved subject extractions over object extractions, consistent with the universal subject preference found in all other languages. Experiments 2 to 4 (naturalness ratings, paraphrasing tasks, and self-paced reading tasks) focused on possessor relative clauses. When the possessor gap was located at the subject position (i.e. in passives), a possessive relation was easier to construct than when the gap was located at an object position (i.e. in canonical constructions and sentences involving BA). The results of Experiments 1-4 suggested that processing accounts based on locality and canonicity, but not on syntactic structure, cannot account for the processing preferences of filler-gap relations in relative clauses. Experiment 5 (self-paced reading tasks) investigated whether the surface NVN sequence of relative clauses at sentence-initial positions induced garden path, and whether the animacy of the first noun in such sequences could rescue the garden path. Mandarin relative clauses involving topicalization of the embedded object were investigated. The results suggested that the surface NVN sequence did induce main-clause misanalysis (as Subject-Verb-Object). Even when the first noun was (semantically) an unlikely agent, the parser took it as a subject in the initial syntactic analysis. Semantics did not have an immediate effect on syntactic processing.
Degree ProgramAnthropology & Linguistics