[PS-1.5] Agreement attraction in Turkish

Lago, S. 1 , Gracanin Yuksek, M. 2 , Safak, D. 2 , Demir, O. 2 , Kirkici, B. 2 & Felser, C. 1

1 Potsdam Research Institute for Multilingualism
2 Middle East Technical University

Agreement attraction errors ("The key to the cabinets ARE...") are thought to arise during syntactic licensing. We investigated attraction in Turkish, where speakers prefer singular to plural verbs with third-person-plural subjects. This "disagreement pattern" can be explained by a post- or extra-syntactic (e.g. morpho-phonological) dispreference towards the repetition of plural morphemes. We conducted several judgment experiments to examine whether this dispreference helps Turkish speakers avoid attraction errors. An untimed judgment task showed that monolingual speakers (n=45) prefer singular to plural verbs with plural subjects (98% vs. 86% acceptance rate). However, the speeded judgments of these speakers robustly showed attraction: ungrammatical sentences were judged as more acceptable when they contained plural instead of singular attractors (23% vs. 14%). We also tested Turkish-German bilinguals (n=45) who, in contrast with the monolinguals, showed an "agreement preference" offline, with lower ratings for singular than plural verbs with plural subjects (86% vs. 91%). However, their speeded judgments showed attraction and did not differ statistically from the monolinguals. These results show that monolinguals and bilingual Turkish speakers have similar rates of attraction, consistent with a view where attraction errors result from erroneously established syntactic dependencies, which speakers share despite variation in their morpho-phonological preferences.