This book examines one of the allegedly unique features of human language:
structure sensitivity. Its point of departure is the distinction between
content and structural units, which are defined in psycholinguistic terms.
The focus of the book is on structural representations, in particular their
hierarchicalness and their branching direction. Structural representations
reach variable levels of activation and are therefore gradient in nature.
Their variable strength is claimed to account for numerous effects
including differences between individual analytical levels, differences
between languages as well as pathways of language acquisition and
breakdown. English is found to be consistent in its branching direction and
to have evolved its branching direction in line with the cross-level
harmony constraint. Structure sensitivity is argued to be highly variable
both within and across languages and consequently an unlikely candidate for
a defining property of human language.