[PS-3.69] Testing the effect of Pseudo Relatives on Relative Clause attachment in Spanish

Aguilar, M. 1 & Grillo, N. 2

1 Universidade Nova de Lisboa
2 Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

We investigated the effect of matrix verb type in the processing of Relative Clause (RC) attachment ambiguities in Spanish. Recent work (Grillo 2012; Grillo and Costa 2014) proposed that previously observed cross-linguistic asymmetries in RC-attachment preference (Cuetos & Mitchell 1988, among many others) are explained by the selective availability of Pseudo Relatives (PR) across languages. PRs and RCs are string-identical but have very different structural and interpretive properties. PRs are only allowed in selective environments, e.g. under (quasi-)perceptual verbs (e.g. Juan vio al criado de la actriz que estaba corriendo). Modulation of RC-attachment preferences by PR-availability has already been attested in Italian (Grillo & Costa 2014), English (Grillo et al., 2015, Cognition), Portuguese (Fernandes 2012, Tomaz et al. 2014) and French (Grillo et al. 2015, CUNY). Despite its centrality in the RC-attachment literature, Spanish has not featured in any work looking at PR-availability effects to date. We fill this gap with results from an offline questionnaire, which show overall HA preference with PR-compatible verbs (e.g. see) and Low-Attachment with PR-incompatible verbs (e.g. live with). This difference was strongly significant (p=.003). The results bring further evidence for a central role of PR-availability in RC-attachment.