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Language Down the Garden PathThe Cognitive and Biological Basis for Linguistic Structures$
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Montserrat Sanz, Itziar Laka, and Michael K. Tanenhaus

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199677139

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199677139.001.0001

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The path from certain events to linguistic uncertainties

The path from certain events to linguistic uncertainties

(p.253) 12 The path from certain events to linguistic uncertainties
Language Down the Garden Path

Montserrat Sanz

Oxford University Press

This chapter reviews the 1990s debate within linguistics about the gradient difficulty of garden path phenomena, with some sentences being almost unprocessable and others quite natural structures. The framing of the question―whether the gradient difficulty was due to thematic properties of the constituents or the syntactic properties of verbs―reflected the conception of the syntax–semantics interface at the time (a mapping between thematic roles and argument positions); but subsequent accounts of the interface, based on semantic features embedded in functional categories, allow an analysis in which event properties lie at the root of garden path phenomena. This raises the issue of the boundaries between syntactic and semantic constructs. Under the present linguistic framework, it is impossible to define pre-theoretically what a semantic, syntactic or lexical construct is. This has distanced linguistics from psycholinguistics, which uses constructs notions like thematic roles, which are processing, not linguistic, necessities.

Keywords:   syntax–semantics interface, features, functional projections, event types, garden path, thematic properties, syntactic constructs

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