[PS-3.29] Expectation-based and memory-based accounts in Persian Complex Predicates

Safavi, M. S. 1 , Husain, S. 2 & Vasishth, S. 3

1 IDEALAB (International Doctorate for Experimental Approaches to Language and Brain), University of Potsdam, University of Groningen
2 Indian Institute of Technology, IIT, Dehli
3 University of Potsdam

Dependency resolution difficulty is known to increase with distance (Gibson, 2000). However, a growing body of literature in verb final languages argue that this distance can cause more facilitation in retrieving the verb (Levy, 2008). In our studies on Persian separable complex predicates, we investigated these expectation and memory-based accounts in two self-paced reading (SPR) and two eye-tracking (ET) experiments, where we delayed the appearance of the verb by interposing a relative clause (Expt. 1 and 3) or a long PP (Expt. 2 and 4). We also included a simple Noun-Verb predicate configuration with the same distance manipulation; here, the exact identity of the verb was not predictable (weak predictability). Thus, the design crossed Predictability Strength and Distance. Fitting linear mixed models, our results showed that, consistent with surprisal, the verb in the strong predictability conditions was read faster than in the weak predictability conditions. Furthermore, greater verb-argument distance led to slower reading times; strong predictability did not neutralize or attenuate the locality effects. As regards the effect of distance on dependency resolution difficulty, these four experiments present evidence in favor of working memory accounts of argument-verb dependency resolution, and against the surprisal-based expectation account of Levy (2008).