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Reading: Early and late preferences in relative clause attachment in Portuguese and Spanish

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Research Paper

Early and late preferences in relative clause attachment in Portuguese and Spanish

Authors:

Marcus Maia ,

Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro – UFRJ
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Eva M. Fernández,

Queens College, City University of New York – CUNY
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Armanda Costa,

Universidade de Lisboa, FLUL – Onset-CEL
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Maria do Carmo Lourenço-Gomes

UFRJ
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Abstract

This study presents new data about the cross-language application of the Late Closure principle (Frazier, 1978), whose universality was put in question by data from Spanish (Cuetos & Mitchell, 1988). Using sentences containing a restrictive relative clause unambiguously modifying the first or the second noun of a complex NP (os cúmplices do ladrão/o cúmplice dos ladrões que fugiram), this study compares the behavior of Brazilian and European Portuguese speakers participating in a self-paced reading task. The data confirm that, in early phases of processing, attachment preferences are driven by a locality principle such as Late Closure. Based on a review of studies on Portuguese, Spanish and other Romance languages, we argue that the high- versus low-attachment difference across languages emerges cleanly only in off-line tasks, such as questionnaire studies, thus limiting the types of explanations for the cross-linguistic differences. We also advance an explanation for the high attachment preferences found in unspeeded questionnaire studies based on the Implicit Prosody Hypothesis (Fodor, 1998a, 2002).
DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/jpl.151
How to Cite: Maia, M., Fernández, E. M., Costa, A., & Lourenço-Gomes, M. do C. (2007). Early and late preferences in relative clause attachment in Portuguese and Spanish. Journal of Portuguese Linguistics, 6(1), 227–250. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/jpl.151
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Published on 30 Jun 2007.
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