Cognitive Science 42 (S4):1101-1133 (2018)

We used Chinese prenominal relative clauses to test the predictions of two competing accounts of sentence comprehension difficulty: the experience-based account of Levy () and the Dependency Locality Theory. Given that in Chinese RCs, a classifier and/or a passive marker BEI can be added to the sentence-initial position, we manipulated the presence/absence of classifiers and the presence/absence of BEI, such that BEI sentences were passivized subject-extracted RCs, and no-BEI sentences were standard object-extracted RCs. We conducted two self-paced reading experiments, using the same critical stimuli but somewhat different filler items. Reading time patterns from both experiments showed facilitative effects of BEI within and beyond RC regions, and delayed facilitative effects of classifiers, suggesting that cues that occur before a clear signal of an upcoming RC can help Chinese comprehenders to anticipate RC structures. The data patterns are not predicted by the DLT, but they are consistent with the predictions of experience-based theories.
Keywords BEI  Chinese  Classifiers  Experience  Relative clause  Storage cost
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Reprint years 2017, 2018
DOI 10.1111/cogs.12551
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Expectation-Based Syntactic Comprehension.Roger Levy - 2008 - Cognition 106 (3):1126-1177.
Uncertainty About the Rest of the Sentence.John Hale - 2006 - Cognitive Science 30 (4):643-672.

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