Processing at the syntax-discourse interface
Lecturer: Lyn Frazier, University of Massachusetts Amherst
We will examine various case studies at the interface of syntax and discourse. They fall under two broad categories.
The first concerns the QUD. Does the language processor relate linguistic input to the QUD as it is being processed? Or is the QUD something that organizes an entire text, identifiable only at the end of the entire text? Related issues concern differences, and similarities, in the processing of at-issue content and not-at-issue content. For example, does the processor structure and interpret a restrictive relative clause and an appositive relative clause in the same way? Are expressives (Damn) processed like non-expressive phrases? Does not-at-issue content play the same role in processing subsequent material that at-issue content plays?
The second broad category of studies concerns the processing of the kinds of ellipsis that can readily embed, which we take to be VP ellipsis, sluicing and fragment answers to questions. We will examine repair theories of ellipsis, and the role that processing theories can play in explaining the distribution of ellipsis, and graded acceptability of ellipsis structures. The course will examine psycholinguistic evidence indicating that an elided constituent contains syntactic structures, and claims that ellipsis may be viewed as a type of discourse anaphora. Finally, ellipsis mechanisms will be compared to accommodation mechanisms.