Locality and attachment preferences in preverbal versus post-verbal Relative Clause

Miriam Aguilar López, Pilar Ferré, José A. Hinojosa, José M. Gavilan, Josep Demestre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The universality of locality is a long-standing debate that has endured in psycholinguistics in spite of the challenges. The non-local preference of attachment in Relative Clauses (RCs) with double antecedent (DP1-of-DP2-RC) reported in a subset of languages (i.e. Spanish) represented an important challenge that locality-based accounts had to address. The forces responsible for attachment preferences turned out to be multifactorial, with relevant roles for prosody, referentiality, lexical semantics and Pseudo-Relative availability. In the present eye-tracking study, we explore the timing of disambiguation in Spanish DP1-of-DP2-RC structures placed in preverbal and post-verbal positions, while also controlling for the previously mentioned influencing factors. Our results are straightforward: an early processing cost arises when the RC is disambiguated non-locally, irrespective of the position. The implications of this work contribute to a better understanding of parsing processes and suggest that locality is at the centre of the forces that influence RC attachment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1303-1310
Number of pages8
JournalLanguage, Cognition and Neuroscience
Issue number10
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Eye-tracking
  • Syntactic ambiguities
  • Parsing principles
  • Locality
  • Relative Clauses


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