Thursday 23 May – Isabel Oltra-Massuet

Speaker: Isabel Oltra-Massuet (Universitat Rovira i Virgili)
Title: Theories of argument structure and syntactic priming in comprehension
Date: Thursday 23 May
Venue: Lipsius 2.35(!)
Time: 15.15-16.30 hrs (drinks follow at Cafe de Keyzer)


Different theories of argument structure attribute different syntactic configurations to intransitives like (1) and transitive structures like (2-6), so that they make different predictions about the processing of these sentence types and the priming relations between them.

(1) Unergative The dog barked in a quiet park at night.
(2) Cognate The man dozed a restful doze on the train.
(3) Creation The cook baked a carrot cake with spelt flour.
(4) Location/Locatum The girl saddled a wild horse in the farm.
(5) Strong transitives The athlete ignored a slight niggle in his knee.
(6) With-Small Clause The worker loaded a rail wagon with hay.

In this talk, I will first review the syntactic structures attributed to (1)-(6) in two competing theoretical approaches to argument structure, (i) Hale & Keyser’s (1993, 2002) approach as developed in Mateu (2002), Acedo-Matellán (2010) and Acedo-Matellán & Mateu (2011, 2013) [AM&M], and (ii) Marantz’s (2005, 2011) [M], as well as their different claims with respect to syntactic priming. Then, I will report the results of a behavioral experiment, a self-paced reading language comprehension study on structural priming. Finally, I will discuss the development of this experiment into an ongoing MEG experiment.

Both experiments are the result of my collaboration with researchers at the Neuroscience of Language Lab – New York University Abu Dhabi.



Acedo-Matellán, V. 2010. Argument Structure and the Syntax-Morphology Interface. A Case Study in Latin and Other Languages. UB, PhD Thesis. Acedo-Matellán, V. & Mateu, J. 2013. Satellite-framed Latin vs. verb-framed Romance: a syntactic approach. Probus 25, 227-265. Hale, K. & Keyser, S. J. 1993. On argument structure and the lexical expression of syntactic relations. The view from Building, 20, 53-109. Hale, K. & Keyser, S. J. 2002. Prolegomenon to a theory of argument structure. MIT Press. Mateu, J. 2002. Argument Structure. Relational Construal at the Syntax-Semantics Interface. UAB, PhD Thesis. Marantz, A. 2005. Objects out of the lexicon: Objects as events. MIT, Ms. Marantz, A. 2011. Syntactic approaches to argument structure without incorporation. Talk presented at the Workshop Structuring the argument, Structures Formelles du Langage UMR 7023 Paris 8/CNRS, Paris, 5-7 September.

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