Invited research talk
IMG_Isabel_Oltra_FAG 06.05.2019  - 

III Setmana de la Recerca: Dr Isabel Oltra, Universitat Rovira i Virgili.
16 May 2019, 10am, Room 501

Processing argument structure: A priming experiment and its theoretical relevance

Different theories of argument structure attribute different syntactic configurations to intransitives like (1) and transitive structures like (2-6), so that they make different predictions about the processing of these sentence types and the priming relations between them.
(1) C1. Unergative The dog barked in a quit park at night.
(2) C2. Cognate The man dozen a restful doze on the train.
(3) C3. Creation The cook baked a carrot cake with spelt flour.
(4) C4. Location/Locatum The girl saddled a wild horse in the farm.
(5) C5. Strong transitives The athlete ignored a slight niggle in his knee.
(6) C6. With-Small Clause The worker loaded a rail wagon with hay.

In this talk, I will first review the syntactic structures attributed to (1)-(6) in two competing theoretical approaches to argument structure, (i) Hale & Keyser’s (1993, 2002) approach as developed in Mateu (2002), Acedo-Matellán (2010) and Acedo-Matellán & Mateu (2011, 2013) [AM&M], and (ii) Marantz’s (2005, 2011) [M]. Then, I will report the results of a behavioral experiment, a self-paced reading language comprehension study on structural priming. In AM&M theory unergatives (1) are analyzed as derived transitive configurations and pattern with cognate object constructions (2) as well as with verbs of creation (3), thus predicting syntactic priming among these sentence types but not between these sets and the remaining types (4)-(6). The latter are assumed to select for a small clause type complement structure, and are therefore predicted to prime among them in this model. On the other hand, the M account does not predict structural priming between the unergatives (1) and the surface transitives, nor between complex complement constructions (6) and the other surface transitive sentences. However, M approach does predict some cases of priming that the AM&M theory does not; specifically, M predicts priming between sets (2)-(3) and (4)-(5), which are considered to display distinct underlying structures in the AM&M account. Finally, I will refer to the development of this experiment into an MEG experiment, currently in process. Both experiments are the result of my collaboration with researchers at the Neuroscience of Language Lab - New York University Abu Dhabi. 

References: Acedo-Matellán, V. 2010. Argument Structure and the Syntax-Morphology Interface. A Case Study in Latin and Other Languages. UB, PhD Thesis. Acedo-Matellán, V. & Mateu, J. 2013. Satellite-framed Latin vs. verb-framed Romance: a syntactic approach. Probus 25, 227-265. Hale, K. & Keyser, S. J. 1993. On argument structure and the lexical expression of syntactic relations. The view from Building, 20, 53-109. Hale, K. & Keyser, S. J. 2002. Prolegomenon to a theory of argument structure. MIT Press. Mateu, J. 2002. Argument Structure. Relational Construal at the Syntax-Semantics Interface. UAB, PhD Thesis. Marantz, A. 2005. Objects out of the lexicon: Objects as events. MIT, Ms. Marantz, A. 2011. Syntactic approaches to argument structure without incorporation. Talk presented at the Workshop Structuring the argument, Structures Formelles du Langage UMR 7023 Paris 8/CNRS, Paris, 5-7 September. 
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