Left edge topics in Russian and the processing of anaphoric dependencies
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CitationPolinsky, Maria and Eric Potsdam. 2014. “Left Edge Topics in Russian and the Processing of Anaphoric Dependencies.” J. Ling. 50 (03) (June 4): 627–669. doi:10.1017/s0022226714000188.
AbstractThis paper investigates the cost of processing syntactic vs. extra-syntactic dependencies. The results support the hypothesis that syntactic dependencies
require less processing effort than discourse-derived dependencies do (Koornneef 2008, Reuland 2001, 2011). The point is made through the analysis of a novel
paradigm in Russian in which a preposed nominal stranding a numeral can show number connectivity (PAUCAL) with a gap following the numeral or can appear in
a non-agreeing (PLURAL) form:
(1) cathedral-PAUCAL/PLURAL, there were three.PAUCAL__
Numerous syntactic diagnostics confirm that when there is number connectivity, the nominal has been fronted via A'-movement, creating a syntactic A'-chain dependency. In the absence of connectivity, the construction involves a hanging topic related via discourse mechanisms to a base-generated null pronoun. The constructions constitute a minimal pair and Reuland’s proposals correctly predict that the A'-movement construction will require less processing effort compared to the hanging topic construction. A self-paced reading study for contrasting pairs as in (1) showed a statistically significant slow down after the gap with the hanging topic as opposed to the moved nominal. We take this to support the claim that a syntactic A'-chain is more easily processed than an anaphoric dependency involving a null pronoun, which must be resolved by discourse-based mechanisms.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:12313556
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