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Linguistic Inquiry

Fall 2006, Vol. 37, No. 4, Pages 625-647
(doi: 10.1162/ling.2006.37.4.625)
© 2006 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Processing Complexity of Complex Predicates: A Case Study in Japanese
Article PDF (1.08 MB)

Complex predicates, by definition, behave like representationally ‘‘reduced’’ predicates, as extensively discussed in the syntax literature. This article reports the results from an experimental study using a type of complex predicate in Japanese (the V-te V predicate), testing how people process this type of complex ‘‘restructured’’ predicate in real time. Because of the properties of the V-te V predicate, it was possible to compare restructured predicates with nonrestructured ones, keeping such factors as event composition, Case licensing, and lexical choice constant. The results of the experiment suggest that the tested restructured predicates involve a single array of predicate-argument association rather than two separate arrays, even though they contain two verbs. The results also revealed that syntactically complex ditransitive predicates are processed with the same ease as lexical ditransitives.