Relative clause attachment in Dutch: On-line comprehension corresponds to corpus frequencies when lexical variables are taken into account

  • Desmet T
  • De Baecke C
  • Drieghe D
 et al. 
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Abstract

Desmet, Brysbaert, and De Baecke (2002a) showed that the production of relative clauses following two potential attachment hosts (e.g., 'Someone shot the servant of the actress who was on the balcony') was influenced by the animacy of the first host. These results were important because they refuted evidence from Dutch against experience-based accounts of syntactic ambiguity resolution, such as the tuning hypothesis. However, Desmet et al. did not provide direct evidence in favour of tuning, because their study focused on production and did not include reading experiments. In the present paper this line of research was extended. A corpus analysis and an eye-tracking experiment revealed that when taking into account lexical properties of the NP host sites (i.e., animacy and concreteness) the frequency pattern and the on-line comprehension of the relative clause attachment ambiguity do correspond. The implications for exposure-based accounts of sentence processing are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA ) (journal abstract)

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