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Thursday 18 September, 2014 12:00 to 12:30 Oral presentation
Testing relativized minimality in intervention effects: The comprehension of relative clauses with complex DPs in European Portuguese
Authors: João Costa, Maria Lobo

Many studies report that object relatives and wh-question are aquired later than subject relatives and wh-questions. These asymmetries are often referred to as intervention effects, capturing the fact that difficulties emerge when an XP intervenes between a displaced constituent of the same type and an empty position it forms a chain with. Friedmann, Belletti and Rizzi (2009) argue that this asymmetry can be explained in terms of Relativized Minimality, since intervention effects emerge when there is featural identity between two XPs of the same type, which is reminiscent of other relativized minimality environments. This hypothesis predicts that intervention emerges when the type of dependency that is independently involved in Relativized Minimality contexts is found. In this talk we test the Relativized Minimality hypothesis by assessing whether there is c-command between the intervener and the gap. We present the results of a picture-selection task being run with 4 and 5 year old Portuguese speaking children, comprising the following conditions: 1. Subject relative clauses (no c-command and no linear intervention) 2. Object relative clauses (c-command and linear intervention) 3. Subject relative clause with complex DP (1) (no c-command and no linear intervention) 4. Object relative clause with complex DP (2) (no c-command and linear intervention) (1) Mostra-me a enfermeira que abraça a filha da rainha. (2) Mostra-me a enfermeira que a filha da rainha está a abraçar. The results of this test are revealing because: (i) it will be possible to see if there is a correlation between intervention with complex DPs and object relative clauses; (ii) if children have difficulties in the comprehension of subject relative clauses with complex DPs, linear intervention plays a role, and Relativized Minimality cannot be the only explanatory factor. If children perform well in this condition, this constitutes a good argument for the Relativized Minimality approach.
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Paper session A2
Place: Main Room

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