Understanding and Producing the Reduced Relative Construction: Evidence from Ratings, Editing and Corpora
Journal of Memory and Language
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Two rating studies demonstrate that English speakers willingly produce reduced relatives with internal cause verbs (e.g., Whisky fermented in oak barrels can have a woody taste), and judge their acceptability based on factors known to influence ambiguity resolution, rather than on the internal/external cause distinction. Regression analyses demonstrate that fre- quency of passive usage predicts reduced relative frequency in corpora, but internal/external cause status does not. The authors conclude that reduced relatives with internal cause verbs are rare because few of these verbs occur in the passive. This contrasts with the claim in McKoon and Ratcliff (McKoon, G., & Ratcliff, R. (2003). Meaning through syntax: Lan- guage comprehension and the reduced relative clause construction. Psychological Review, 110, 490–525) that reduced rel- atives like The horse raced past the barn fell are rare and, when they occur, incomprehensible, because the meaning of the reduced relative construction prohibits the use of a verb with an internal cause event template.
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