[PS-2.61] Relative Clause-attachment in European (EP) and Brazilian Portuguese (BP): Effects of verb type, tense and variety

Fernandes, E. 1, 2 , Luegi, P. 3, 4 , Correa Soares, E. 2, 5 , de la Fuente, I. . 6, 2 & Hemforth, B. 6, 2

1 Labex EFL
2 Université Paris Diderot
3 Universidade de Lisboa
4 Centro de Linguística da Universidade de Lisboa
5 CAPES Foundation

Pseudo-relative (PR) clauses have been argued to underlie high attachment (HA) preferences in RC-attachment ambiguities. PRs are possible with perception verbs which create the anticipation of a perceivable event. They demand the relative clause and the matrix clause being in the same time frame. Availability of PRs varies across languages but also across speakers of a language or language varieties. For BP as well as for EP evidence for basic attachment preferences is mixed as is evidence for the availability of PRs. Our questionnaire studies in BP and EP asked for attachment preferences in sentences like ?Maria saw/sees the daughter of the teacher who ran the marathon.?

We varied verb-type (perception vs. stative verbs like lived-with) and tense-match between the RC-verb and the matrix verb. If the PR-reading is driving high attachment preferences, only perception verb sentences with matching tenses should boost HA. We found significant effects of variety (more HA for EP), verb-type (more HA for perception verbs across tense-match conditions), and a marginal (.08) interaction verb-type*tense. Across varieties, most HA were found for perception verbs with matching tense compatible with the PR-hypothesis. However, even for mismatching tense, perception verbs attracted more HA, suggesting a semantic effect beyond PR-availability.