Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 1 - FILLING THE GAP (Filling the gap: Strategies for the processing of unbounded dependencies cross-linguistically)

The project "Filling the Gap" aims to explore how listeners comprehend syntactically complex sentences in real time, and in particular, whether (and how) the mechanisms involved in online sentence processing are affected by properties of the grammar of specific languages, or whether they are universally shared by all listeners. To do this, we focus on resumptive pronouns – pronominal elements that overtly mark the end of long-distance syntactic dependencies, and which appear in certain languages (e.g. Hebrew), but not in others (e.g. English). The project investigates: a. Whether these elements facilitate processing of complex sentences in the languages in which they appear, as argued by some authors, or alternatively whether they hinder processing, as argued by others; b. Whether the grammatical existence of these elements in a language causes listeners to adopt different processing strategies than those adopted by listeners in languages where these elements are unavailable.
During the reporting period, we have made substantial progress in understanding these issues, and have disseminated our results and conclusions widely. We have run more than a dozen grammaticality judgement, self-paced reading and cross-modal lexical priming experiments addressing the questions presented above. Based on their results, we were able to conclude that resumptive pronouns have both facilitating and hindering effects on processing, and provide a more accurate characterization of these effects and the circumstances in which they arise. We also found that the existence of grammatical resumption in Hebrew leads comprehenders to adopt unique processing strategies that have not been observed in languages such as English.
The results obtained so far culminated in two papers in leading peer-reviewed journals (Lingua and Language), and an additional manuscript submitted to a volume about linguistic variation published by the Israeli Academy of Sciences. Three more manuscripts are currently in preparation. The results were also presented in several international conferences on theoretical linguistics and cognitive science, as well as in a number of departmental seminars in various Israeli universities (Tel Aviv University, The Hebrew University, Bar-Ilan University). In addition, various aspects of the project were presented and discussed in a workshop on resumptive pronouns organized jointly by researchers and graduate students from Tel Aviv University and the University of Maryland. Since research on sentence processing in Hebrew is scarce and resources are limited, we decided to make the results of all our pretests and norming studies publicly available through the Psycholinguistics and Neurolinguistics Research Lab's website ( These already include reaction time and associate norms for Hebrew nouns, as well as cloze probability norms, and will soon be updated to include further data, including the results of a large-scale (200 participants) online sentence production survey probing subcategorization preferences for 200 Hebrew verbs.
Work on the project during the reporting period was accompanied by setting up and consolidating the Psycholinguistics and Neurolinguistics Research Lab, led by Dr. Meltzer-Asscher. This included renovating a dedicated space and equipping it for running psycholinguistic experiments, both behavioral and electrophysiological. In addition, we built a team of excellent research assistants, graduate students and research associates working on the project, and on psycholinguistic research in general, with many of them planning on pursuing this type of research in the future.

Reported by

Síganos en: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Gestionado por la Oficina de Publicaciones de la UE Arriba