The processing of relative clause attachment ambiguities in Turkish

The aim of this study is to investigate the way native speakers of Turkish resolve relative clause (RC) attachment ambiguities in sentences which contain a relative clause followed by a complex noun phrase with two potential attachment sites. The structures under investigation are relative clauses followed by complex NPs with genitive constructions [NP1GEN+NP2] as in (1) and relative clauses followed by complex NPs containing postpositional phrases [[NP1 P]PP+NP2] as in (2): (1) ABD’de ya∑ayan aktörün o©lu dün uçak kazası geçirdi, (2) Elinde çiçek olan görevlinin yanındaki adam benim fizik ö©retmenim. Previously conducted studies have found cross-linguistic differences in the resolution of such structural ambiguities, showing that in some languages the RC is predominantly attached to the first NP, i.e. aktör, while speakers of other languages attach the RC to the second NP, i.e. o©lu. However, it has also been found that lexical-semantic information like the presence of a pre-/postposition in the complex NP as in (2) and the animacy features of the potential hosts constitute determining factors in the choice of the NP which the RC will be attached to. The results of two off-line (untimed) questionnaire experiments conducted with adult native speakers of Turkish reveal that sentence comprehension and (RC) ambiguity resolution is highly influenced by the semantic features of the constituents involved and speak against a parsing account for Turkish based on syntactic or locality-based constraints alone.
Turkic Languages


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Citation Formats
B. Kırkıcı, “The processing of relative clause attachment ambiguities in Turkish,” Turkic Languages, pp. 111–121, 2004, Accessed: 00, 2021. [Online]. Available: