When is the verb a potential gap site? The influence of filler maintenance on the active search for a gap

Tal Ness*, Aya Meltzer-Asscher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Throughout an open filler-gap dependency, some features of the filler are actively maintained in working-memory, while others decay and are retrieved at the gap. The current study asks whether the availability of certain features of the filler (due to their maintenance) influences the parser’s attempt to posit a gap upon encountering a verb. We report the results of two self-paced reading experiments testing the hypothesis that maintained features guide active gap-filling. Experiment 1 used similarity-based interference to show that animacy is a maintained feature. Experiment 2 combined a filled-gap design and a plausibility manipulation, with violation of either the animacy requirement or some other selectional restriction of the verb, to test when an attempt to resolve a dependency is made despite poor fit between the verb and the filler. Results suggest that only verbs selecting an argument with features like those maintained in the filler’s representation trigger an attempt to resolve the dependency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)936-948
Number of pages13
JournalLanguage, Cognition and Neuroscience
Volume34
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 9 Aug 2019

Funding

FundersFunder number
City University of New York
Israel Science Foundation216/18 (PI Aya Meltzer-Asscher
Tel Aviv University

    Keywords

    • Active filler
    • Animacy
    • Filled gap effect
    • Filler-gap dependency
    • Plausibility

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