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It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

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Sounds Fascinating

By J. C. Wells

How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

Academic Paper

Title: Multiple dependencies and the role of the grammar in real-time comprehension
Author: Matthew W. Wagers
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: University of California
Author: Colin Phillips
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: University of Maryland
Linguistic Field: Syntax
Abstract: Wh-dependencies are known to be formed rapidly in real-time comprehension. The parser posits the location of gap sites in advance of the bottom-up evidence for missing constituents, and must therefore have a means of deciding when and where to project dependencies. Previous studies have observed that the parser avoids building ungrammatical wh-dependencies, for example, by restricting the search for gap sites from island domains. This paper tests the stronger claim that constraints are not merely respected, but that grammatical knowledge actively prompts the construction of some representations in advance of the input. Three self-paced reading experiments examined patterns of wh-dependency formation in multiple-dependency constructions: obligatory across-the-board (ATB) extraction from coordinated verb phrases, and from optional parasitic gaps in post-verbal adjunct clauses. The key finding is that comprehenders immediately enforce the requirement for extraction from coordinates, and hence actively search for multiple gap sites within a coordinate VP; but they do not search for post-verbal parasitic gaps. This difference cannot be attributed to relative differences in acceptability, as comprehenders rated both of these multiple-gap constructions equally highly, nor can it be explained by general parsing incentives to develop maximal incremental interpretations of partial strings. More plausibly, the difference reflects the deployment of detailed grammatical knowledge in a parser that is motivated to satisfy structural licensing requirements in real time.


This article appears IN Journal of Linguistics Vol. 45, Issue 2.

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