Our department is very pleased to welcome Marcus Maia, who is currently an Associate Professor at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California in 1994 and has worked on a range of topics and languages, including psycholinguistics, syntax, Spanish, Portuguese, and the indigenous languages of Brazil.
The Department of Spanish and Portuguese and the Department of Linguistics are co-hosting a talk of his on Friday, November 27, at 3:30 PM sharp in SS 560A. It will be followed by a reception in our department lounge.
"The processing of embedded and coordinated PPs in Karaja and in Brazilian Portuguese: Eye-tracking evidence."
As much as there is a vast literature on the processing cost of long distance dependencies between sentences, not much has been written on the on-line processing of locally embedded phrases. In the present work we structured a set of comparative tests between a series of embedded PPs (Prepositional/Postpositional Phrases) and coordinated ones, in Brazilian Portuguese and in the Brazilian indigenous language Karajá (Macro-Jê). Our hypothesis was that, even at short distance, embedded structures would still be more costly computationally than the coordinated ones. We will start by reporting oral/sentence picture matching experiments run with Karaja and Brazilian Portuguese subjects (Maia, França, Lage, Gesualdi, Oliveira, Soto & Gomes, to appear). We will then present a new eye-tracking study with Brazilian Portuguese and Karaja subjects (Maia, to appear) to argue that a basic cognitive efficiency process is at play in the computation of multiply embedded PP constructions, accounting for the experimental results obtained. We conclude that recursion is the result of a syntactic algorithm that is costly to be launched, but once it is established, it undergoes habituation and does not pose any extra significant effort to the system.