Monday: 9 July
Processing Filler-Gap Dependencies
The Processing of Filler-Gap Dependencies: The State of the
Art. Relevant factors known to affect processing difficulty.
Main Points about Processing Factors:
- cumulative effects
- distance effects
- intervention effects (including a summary of Rizzi's (1990) notion of
- lexical frequency/semantics
Ross, J.R. (1987). Remarkably visionary. He casts the proposal in
terms of viability: "The idea here is that it is possible for a
sentence to deviate from a prototype, and yet not manifest any drop in
acceptability. Losses in viability are cumulative, and only when
there have been enough of them for a certain threshold value to be
exceeded will the speakers of the language perceive that the sentence
is less than perfect." (p. 310) The "fairly obvious prototypes" he
discussed include: affirmative vs. negative, declaratives vs.
questions, null vs. overt complementizers, assertive vs. factive,
specific vs. non-specific indefinite NPs (as regards extractability),
1 clause vs. 2 clauses, finite vs. nonfinite (though this appears to
be in the opposite direction from what you would expect).
Kluender, R. (1992). `Predication principles'. The
notion that all heads and specifiers in the scope of an unbounded
dependency make a difference. This is in contrast to the Alexopoulou
and Keller proposal (see below), which claims that all syntactic heads matter
(offered as a modification of the Gibson proposal, where it is only
intervening discourse referents that matter; see p. 41 of the
- Hawkins, J. (1999): Distance effects. `minimize FGDs' (10), p. 251
clause embedding hierarchy (30), p. 263 Finiteness effects
(pp. 269-270) Intervention effects (pp. 270-273).
- Alexopoulou, D. and Keller, F. (2007): Clear evidence for effects of
embedding, even in declaratives Syntactic/functional heads intervening
between filler and gap make a difference.
- Ross, J.R. 1987. Islands and syntactic prototypes. In B. Need,
E. Schiller, and A. Bosch (eds.), Papers from the General Session at
the Twenty-Third Annual Regional Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society.
CLS 23, part 1, Pp. 309-320. Chicago, IL: Chicago Linguistic Society.
- Kluender, R. 1992. Deriving island contraints from principles of
predication. In H. Goodluck and M. Rochemont (eds.), Island Constraints:
Theory, Processing, and Acquisition, 223-258E Dordrecht, NL: Kluwer Academic
Alexopoulou, D. and Keller, F. 2007. Locality, cyclicity and
resumption: At the interface between grammar and the human sentence
processor. Language 83 (1): 110-160.
- Hawkins, J. 1999. Processing complexity and filler-gap dependencies
Across grammars. Language 75 (2): 244-285.
Last Updated: June 28, 2007