Investigating the Role of Verb Frequency in Factive and Manner-of-speaking Islands

AbstractFrequency plays a central role in human cognition, and in language processing in particular. There is growing evidence that acceptability judgements are shaped by the statistics of the input. In this paper, we focus on a type of constraint operative in long-distance dependencies (e.g. wh-questions, relative clauses, topicalizations, etc.) which has been claimed to result from verb subcategorization frequency effects. We take a closer look at this hypothesis, and conclude that it does not account for the sentence acceptability contrasts. Rather, the evidence we find suggests that the acceptability of these dependencies hinges on clause-level semantic-pragmatic factors.

Return to previous page