Processing Relative Clauses Across Comprehension and Production: Similarities and Differences

Andrea Santi, Nino Grillo, Emilia Molimpakis, Michael Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We compare the processing of relative clauses in comprehension (self-paced reading) and production (planned production). We manipulated the locality of two syntactic dependencies: filler-gap (subject vs object gap) and subject-verb (center-embedded vs right-branched). The non-local filler-gap dependency resulted in a longer embedded predicate duration, across domains, consistent with memory-based accounts. For the non-local subject-verb dependency, we observe longer reading times at the main verb, but in production a greater likelihood and duration of a pause preceding the main verb. We argue that this result stems from the cost of computing the restriction, which manifests as a prosodic break. In the context of the subject-verb dependency manipulation, we also revisit the source of interpretation break-down in multiple center-embedding. Generally, our findings imply that memory-based accounts are adequate for filler-gap, but not subject-verb, dependencies and production studies can aid in understanding complexity effects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-189
JournalLanguage Cognition and Neuroscience
Issue number2
Early online date23 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

© 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.


  • comprehension
  • memory
  • production
  • Relative clause
  • syntactic dependency

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