What’s So Difficult About Center-Embedding?

Talk

WHEN December 12, 2018
6-7:30pm EST WHERE 19 Washington Square North WHO NYU Abu Dhabi Institute in New York
Open to the Public

For 50 years, syntacticians have attempted to explain why one center-embedded relative clause (RC) adds mildly to the effort of sentence processing (The rat [the cat killed] ate the malt), but adding a second RC pushes the cost sky-high (The rat [the cat [the dog chased] killed] ate the malt) - which doesn’t even sound like a grammatical sentence, though it is!

In collaboration with graduate students at CUNY, Janet Fodor has uncovered a novel explanation: A mismatch between syntactic structure (hierarchical) and prosodic structure (flat). It’s not syntax or prosody that makes center-embedding difficult; it’s just that these two modalities have conflicting structural needs.

Special thanks to: Stefanie Nickels, Esther Schott, Ben Macaulay, Danielle Ronkos, Tally Callahan, Tyler Peckenpaugh

Speakers
Janet Fodor, Distinguished Professor of Linguistics, CUNY Graduate Center

Organized by
Liina Pylkkanen, Professor of Linguistics and Psychology, NYU; Co-Principal Investigator of the Neuroscience of Language Laboratory, NYUAD
Alec Marantz, Silver Professor of Linguistics and Psychology, NYU; Co-Principal Investigator of the Neuroscience of Language Laboratory, NYUAD

In Collaboration with

Neuroscience of Language Laboratory, NYUAD

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