This study aims to test two hypotheses about the online processing of Gapping: whether the parser inserts an ellipsis site in an incremental fashion in certain coordinated structures (the Incremental Ellipsis Hypothesis), or whether ellipsis is a late and dispreferred option (the Ellipsis as a Last Resort Hypothesis). We employ two offline acceptability rating experiments and a sentence fragment completion experiment to investigate to what extent the distribution of Gapping is controlled by grammatical and extra-grammatical constraints. Furthermore, an eye-tracking while reading experiment demonstrated that the parser inserts an ellipsis site incrementally but only when grammatical and extra-grammatical constraints allow for the insertion of the ellipsis site. This study shows that incremental building of the Gapping structure follows from the parser’s general preference to keep the structure of the two conjuncts maximally parallel in a coordination structure as well as from grammatical restrictions on the distribution of Gapping such as the Coordination Constraint.
Q J Exp Psychol (Hove). 2020 May; 73(5): 781–798.
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