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When the middle verb phrase is removed from an English double-embedded sentence, the remainder of the sentence is read faster in spite of the ungrammaticality. It has been shown that this “missing-VP effect” is reversed in German and Dutch. The current study demonstrates that the same cross-linguistic difference holds for sentences judgments: Native speakers consider English double-embedded sentences more comprehensible and acceptable when the middle verb phrase is removed, whereas the same is not the case in Dutch. This interaction between language and grammaticality also appears in a within-subjects replication that tests Dutch native speakers in both languages. These results, in combination with earlier findings, give rise to a hybrid account according to which the missing-VP effect is caused by properties of the language as well as properties of working memory.
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- Judgements about double-embedded relative clauses differ between languages
Stefan L. Frank
- Springer Berlin Heidelberg