On the origins of islands

Masaya Yoshida, N. Kazanina, L Pablos, Patrick Sturt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

There is considerable controversy on island constraints on wh-dependencies in
the psycholinguistics literature. One major point of contention is whether islands result from processing limitations such as Working Memory capacity or from domain-specific linguistic knowledge. The current study investigates whether islands can be reduced to processing considerations, by examining processing of another long-distance dependency, cataphora. If wh-dependencies with the licensing element (the verb or preposition) falling inside an island entail an unbearable memory load on the parser, then other dependencies, including
cataphora, with a licensing element (the antecedent), inside an island, should yield a similar processing difficulty. The results from a self-paced reading experiment demonstrate that online formation of a cataphoric dependency is not affected by island constraints. We conclude that islands are not fully reducible to processing considerations and therefore must – at least in part – be of grammatical origin.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)761-770
JournalLanguage and Cognitive Processes
Issue number7
Early online date3 May 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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