How linear distance and structural distance affect the processing of gap-filler dependencies in head-final relative clauses
For sentences involving long-distance dependencies like relative clauses (RCs), there are two ways to view the distance between the head noun and the gap. One is the linear way and the other is the structural way. This study examines the respective roles of linear distance and structural distance and their interaction in processing long-distance dependencies in head-final RCs where the gap precedes the head noun. We measured Mandarin speakers’ eye-movements on reading sentences with subject-gap RCs in pseudo-cleft constructions. Overall, the findings suggest that structural distance affects the initial stage of processing and it interacts with linear distance, and that the factor of linear distance might need to be reconsidered in the processing of gap-filler dependencies in head-final RC structures.