Ming Xiang (University of Chicago) will talk on "The memory structure of covert dependencies” on Wednesday, April 22, at 5:30 in N400. An abstract of her talk follows.
While modeling the cross-linguistic structural variation, linguistic analysis often postulates abstract “covert” representations that do not have any morpho-phonological reflexes in the surface word string. Little is known as to whether such representations are actually constructed in language comprehension and production. In this talk, I will examine the processing of Mandarin wh-in-situ questions, which share the same word order with regular declarative sentences but have a semantics identical to their English counterpart wh-questions. Drawing on data from production, eyetracking-reading, and speed-accuracy tradeoff paradigms, I will address two questions: (i) Does the parser construct a covert non-local syntactic dependency in processing? (ii) What are the parsing mechanisms that support such non-local dependencies? How similar/different are they from the processing of overt non-local dependencies?