Two (non-) islands in Slovenian: A study in experimental syntax
Arthur Stepanov, Manca Mušič, Penka Stateva
September 2016

There exists a controversy in the literature and among the speakers of Slovenian concerning the grammaticality of wh-island and subject island constructions in this language. We conducted an acceptability rating study of wh-islands and subject islands in Slovenian, using the factorial definition of island as developed in Sprouse et al. (2012) and other works. This definition provides for a capability to isolate a true island effect while controlling for two complexity factors that potentially interfere in speakers’ evaluation of the relevant sentences: the length of the respective movement dependency and the presence of an island structure itself. We found that 1) Slovenian speakers do judge the wh-island sentences worse than the respective controls, but the observed degradation cannot be attributed to a true island effect; 2) subject extraction out of a wh-island leads to a so called reverse island effect whereby the acceptability is higher than expected even if the above two complexity factors are taken into consideration; and 3) speakers are sensitive to the subject island effect, as predicted by the mainstream theories of syntactic locality. The results of our study contribute to establishing a solid empirical base for further theoretical investigations of the island effects, and raise new questions about the role of processing factors in speakers’ evaluation of island constructions.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003762
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: To appear in Linguistics 56(3)
keywords: syntactic island, experimental syntax, subjacency, slovenian, syntax
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