This article investigates how dependencies are constructed in prenominal relative clauses of Mandarin Chinese by comparing the comprehension of two types of relative clauses: possessive relative clauses (PRCs), where the head noun is associated with a dependent noun phrase in the embedded clause, and adjunct relative clauses (ARCs), where the head noun takes the whole embedded clause as its complement. The results of a naturalness-rating experiment and two self-paced reading experiments showed distinctive reading patterns of PRCs and ARCs. The comprehension of a PRC is sensitive to the grammatical position of the dependent noun in the prenominal clause: retrieval of a dependent noun at the subject position is less costly than that of a dependent noun at VP-internal nonsubject positions. The comprehension of an ARC reflects the structural frequency of the whole prenominal clause: more-canonical structures like SVO sentences were read faster than less frequent structures such as disposal and passive sentences. These results support the importance of structural locality and subject prominence for constructing gap-filler dependencies in prenominal relative clauses.


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pp. 758-797
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