Doctoral Dissertation Research: Examining the linguistic cues that guide prediction in the processing of Mandarin relative clauses: An ERP study
This dissertation examines the extent to which the parser achieves incremental processing by using local information to predict the structure of upcoming material during sentence processing. The project examines relative clauses in Mandarin Chinese as a test case for incrementality, as their head-final property makes it vital that the parser pre-constructs the relative clause structure before encountering the head of the relative clause, in order to avoid being garden-pathed. Predictive mechanisms are thus paramount for enabling structure to be assembled efficiently and incrementally, rather than delaying structure building until the head is encountered. The project will use eltroencephalography (EEG) to examine how processing unfolds in sentences where a linguistic cue on the verb may facilitate the parser to pre-build the relative clause structure before encountering any element (such as relative clause marker) confirming the presence of relative clause in the bottom-up input. Additionally, the project investigates whether prediction depends on the properties of the individual, examining the role of individual differences in cognitive and linguistic abilities in incremental processing.