LINGUIST List 13.1193

Tue Apr 30 2002

Diss: Psycholing: Walenski "Relating Parsers..."

Editor for this issue: Karolina Owczarzak <>


  1. walenski, Psycholing: Walenski "Relating Parsers and Grammars"

Message 1: Psycholing: Walenski "Relating Parsers and Grammars"

Date: Mon, 29 Apr 2002 15:12:53 +0000
From: walenski <>
Subject: Psycholing: Walenski "Relating Parsers and Grammars"

New Dissertation Abstract

Institution: University of California at San Diego
Program: Cognitive Science and Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2002

Author: Matthew Walenski 

Dissertation Title: 
Relating Parsers and Grammars: On the structure and real-time
comprehension of English infinitival complements

Linguistic Subfield: 
Syntax, Psycholinguistics, Neurolinguistics, Linguistic Theories

Dissertation Director 1: John Moore 
Dissertation Director 2: Robert Kluender 
Dissertation Director 3: David Swinney

Dissertation Abstract: 

The work in this dissertation explores the relation between theories
of grammar and theories of parsing in the context of the real-time
comprehension of English infinitival complements of subject control
and subject raising predicates. Opinion is currently divided as to
whether grammars and parsers can be related at all, whether these
theories can be mutually constraining, or whether there are even two
distinct types of theory at all. Additionally, representations of
these infinitives differ across linguistic frameworks, and have been
the source of conflicting neuro- and psycho-linguistic findings as

Linguistic evidence, linguistic analyses from four different
linguistic frameworks, neurolinguistic and psycholinguistic evidence
are considered as the basis for new experiments, using Event-related
potentials (ERP), cross-modal priming, and cross-modal interference
measures. Evidence from the ERP study presented here suggests that
results from prior ERP and visual probe recognition (VPR) experiments,
as well as the current ERP results, reflect differences in the
expectancy of the infinitival complement for the two types of
predicate, not differences in the structure of the complements.

New evidence from the cross-modal priming study presented here
constitutes the first evidence of priming immediately at a purported
NP-trace gap position (in a subject raising sentence), and provides
evidence of priming after a short delay at a purported PRO-gap
position (in a subject control sentence). This priming effect is
hypothesized to result from a theta-checking strategy which ultimately
has a grammatical source: the dependency between the matrix subject
and the infinitive that is proposed by (at least) the four linguistic
frameworks examined here. If a strict mapping between theories of
grammar and theories of parsing representing the simplest relationship
between them is imposed, the fact that no interference effect at the
purported gap position supports only those theories of grammar that
do not posit a structural difference between control and raising

Based on these results, it is argued that by imposing the simplest
mapping between theories of grammar and theories of parsing, they are
found to be (at least) mutually constraining, if not actually
reducible to a single theoretical system.

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