School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science

Elisabet Engdahl - Professor of Swedish, University of Gothenburg

24 October 2012

Time: 3:00 - 4:00pm
Venue: BR 3.02 Bancroft Road Teaching Rooms Peter Landin Building London E1 4NS

Unbounded dependencies – on the interaction between grammar and processing

Understanding and producing language is extremely fast and usually effortless. We are not aware of doing anything special when we talk to each other. But when linguists look at the structures that are being built during the processing, a rather complex picture emerges. This picture is corroborated by what psycholinguists find when they look at the activity in the brain during listening or reading,  In this talk I will discuss what is involved in the production and comprehension of so-called unbounded dependencies. These are structures where the interpretation of an initial phrase can not be fully determined until much later in the sentence, as in the following example. What was it you said I shouldn’t forget to tell them to bring tomorrow? In order to understand this question, the addressee has to keep the initial question word what accessible until s/he has identified the verb bring in the most embedded clause.