The Syntax–Discourse Interface

Representing and interpreting dependency

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This book combines theoretical and experimental aspects of the establishment of dependency. It provides an account of dependency relations by focusing on the representation and interpretation of referentially dependent elements, particularly regular reflexives, logophors, and pronouns. First, the establishment of dependency is discussed within a model of syntax—discourse correspondences that predicts an economy-based dependency hierarchy contingent on the level of representation at which the dependency is formed as well as the internal structure of the dependent element and its antecedent. Secondly, the model’s predictions are substantiated by a series of experimental studies (conducted in English and Dutch) providing evidence from three sources of online sentence comprehension: reaction time studies, Broca’s aphasia patient studies, and event-related brain potential studies. The findings show that dependencies are established at distinct levels of linguistic encoding (i.e. syntax or discourse) determined by the presence or absence of coargumenthood and the representation of the dependency-forming elements.

Subjects: Semantics; Discourse studies; Generative linguistics; Theoretical linguistics; Syntax

  • Affiliations: 1: Philipps-University, Marburg

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