Subject-verb agreement in English relative clauses: Using speech errors and psycholinguistic approaches to distinguish between syntactic representations

Cecily Jill Duffield


The analysis presented here makes use of agreement speech errors to address the question of which syntactic representations of relative clause structures are appropriate for the psycholinguistic production of the local dependency between subjects and verbs. If agreement is a strictly syntactic process, and such errors only occur as a result of interference between the copying of syntactic number from the subject to the verb, a Government and Binding representation is plausible. Such a theoretical representation suggests specific feature-copying relationships between head nominals, relative pronouns and traces. If, however, agreement in the cases of these errors is semantic, then a Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar representation of relative clauses may be more appropriate for psycholinguistic accounts. Directions for future research are suggested.

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Working Papers of the Linguistics Circle

EISSN: 1920-440X
ISSN: 1200-3344

University of Victoria