[PS-2.7] Ambiguity in Japanese relative clause processing: A series of eye-tracking studies

Mansbridge, M. & Tamaoka, K.

Nagoya University

As in many prenominal languages which do not mark relative clauses (RC) at the initial clause boundary, RCs in Japanese have initial clause-type ambiguity. In other words, the RC may be initially misconstrued as a matrix clause until a point of disambiguation, which is typically at the head noun. The general issue with this is that at the head noun both the effects of expectation-based resources and retrieval-resources are predicted. While expectation-based resources predict an ORC disadvantage, models on retrieval using different metrics have varying predictions in Japanese, for instance, a structural metric predicts ORC difficulty while a linear/temporal metric predicts SRC difficulty. In the current study, we investigate RC processing in Japanese when this ambiguity has been attenuated through three eye-tracking experiments: (i) replicating ORC difficulty at the head with eye-tracking under ambiguous contexts, (ii) demonstrating that creating clause boundary attenuates ORC difficulty at the head but creates difficulty within the RC, and (iii) revealing that if both SRC and ORC structures are unambiguous, SRCs become more difficult at the head noun. We interpret these results as (1) supporting expectation-based resources under ambiguous contexts and (2) supporting a linear/temporal integration metric in Japanese rather than a structural-based one.