Unacceptable but comprehensible: the facilitation effect of resumptive pronouns

Abstract

It is often assumed in the theoretical syntax literature that intrusive resumptive pronouns can rescue island violations. However, recent experimental investigations did not provide strong evidence for such a rescuing effect. The current study examines intrusive resumption in Italian and English. In four experiments, we show that resumption indeed improves island violation to some degree, but such an effect is sensitive to task and contextual manipulations. In particular, the rescuing effect only surfaces with a comprehensibility but not a traditional acceptability task, and the effect is strongest when the antecedent of the resumptive pronoun is made sali- ent through additional context. At the same time, however, the effect of resumption in longer embedded clauses (compared to shorter ones) is much weaker. We discuss these findings in terms of how resumptive pronouns, although ungrammatical in English, can facilitate parsing in particular yet principled ways. 

Keywords

resumptive pronouns, acceptability judgments, syntactic island, anaphoric processing

How to Cite

Beltrama A. & Xiang M., (2016) “Unacceptable but comprehensible: the facilitation effect of resumptive pronouns”, Glossa: a journal of general linguistics 1(1), p.29. doi: https://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.24

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Authors

Andrea Beltrama (University of Chicago)
Ming Xiang (University of Chicago)

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