Garden path and the comprehension of head-final relative clauses

Chien Jer Charles Lin, Thomas G. Bever

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

26 Scopus citations


This chapter explores the issue of garden-path in the comprehension of head-final relative clauses (particularly in Chinese and Japanese). Experimental data from two self-paced reading studies in Chinese are compared, showing the existence of a main-clause garden-path effect on the object-extracted relative clause modifying the object of the matrix clause. Different approaches adopted to indicate an upcoming relative clause (and thus to avoid a potential garden-path effect) are evaluated, including using internal relative-clause markers, classifier-noun mismatches, relativization-inducing contexts and providing specific instructions on the existence and position of relative clauses in the matrix clauses. The garden-path effect associated with a relative clause can be avoided by using a classifier-noun mismatch along with a carefully constructed referential context. Experiments giving specific instructions on the existence of relative clauses can also diminish the garden-path effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationStudies in Theoretical Psycholinguistics
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages21
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameStudies in Theoretical Psycholinguistics
ISSN (Print)1873-0043
ISSN (Electronic)2215-1788


  • Context
  • Garden-path
  • Head-final structures
  • Relative clauses
  • Sentence comprehension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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