Dustin and Colin on gap-filling in Bangla
Now in Frontiers in Psychology, "Locality and Word Order in Active Dependency Formation in Bangla," by 2015 alumnus Dustin Chacón, with Colin Phillips and co-authors from the Universities of Dhaka and Calcutta: Mashrur Imtiaz, Shirsho Dasgupta, Sikder M. Murshed, and Mina Dan. The paper asks whether preferences to resolve filler-gap dependencies 'locally' are sensitive to linear locality or structural locality. It pursues this question through three experiments in Bangla, or Bengali, a language in which embedded clauses may either precede or follow the embedding verb. This property of Bangla allows for manipulation of whether the first gap linearly available is or is not contained in the same clause as the filler. In Experiment 1, an untimed ambiguity resolution task, there was a global bias to resolve a filler-gap dependency with the first gap linearly available, regardless of structural hierarchy. But in Experiments 2 and 3, which use the filled-gap paradigm, there was sensitivity to filling of the soonest gap only when when gap site is both structurally and linearly local. The paper takes this to suggest that comprehenders may not show sensitivity to the disruption of all preferred gap resolutions.