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On the Usefulness of Formal Judgment Tasks in Syntax and in Second-Language Research: The Case of Resumptive Pronouns in English, Turkish, and Mandarin Chinese

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Fedorenko and Gibson (2013) have argued against the continued use of informally collected acceptability judgments as the primary methodology in theoretical syntax and semantics research. We provide further support for their position with data from Mandarin and Turkish-language judgment tasks which examined the acceptability of resumptive pronouns (RPs) in relative clauses. Based on previous studies which relied on informal judgments, we expected that RPs should be permitted in certain types of Mandarin relative clauses, but ungrammatical in comparable Turkish relative clauses. The results failed to replicate this contrast: RPs were more acceptable than expected in Turkish, and less acceptable than expected in Mandarin. Furthermore, the Mandarin Chinese experiment showed an unexpected gradient effect. We argue that these results challenge existing theoretical accounts, support the more widespread adoption of experimental tasks in theoretical linguistics and in second-language research, and consistently support the Filler-Gap Domain complexity ranking as proposed by Hawkins (2004). We use the complexity ranking and its supporting evidence as a case study demonstrating that quantitative data, such as the evidence obtained from formal sentence judgment tasks, are indispensable in the defense or criticism of linguistic theories.
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To appear in Linguistics, October 2016 John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 1
On the Usefulness of Formal Judgment Tasks in Syntax and in Second-Language Research: The
Case of Resumptive Pronouns in English, Turkish, and Mandarin Chinese
John Hitz Elaine J. Francis
University of Central Oklahoma Purdue University
Abstract
Fedorenko and Gibson (2013) have argued against the continued use of informally collected
acceptability judgments as the primary methodology in theoretical syntax and semantics
research. We provide further support for their position with data from Mandarin and Turkish-
language judgment tasks which examined the acceptability of resumptive pronouns (RPs) in
relative clauses. Based on previous studies which relied on informal judgments, we expected
that RPs should be permitted in certain types of Mandarin relative clauses, but ungrammatical
in comparable Turkish relative clauses. The results failed to replicate this contrast: RPs were
more acceptable than expected in Turkish, and less acceptable than expected in Mandarin.
Furthermore, the Mandarin Chinese experiment showed an unexpected gradient effect. We
argue that these results challenge existing theoretical accounts, support the more widespread
adoption of experimental tasks in theoretical linguistics and in second-language research, and
consistently support the Filler-Gap Domain complexity ranking as proposed by Hawkins (2004).
We use the complexity ranking and its supporting evidence as a case study demonstrating that
quantitative data, such as the evidence obtained from formal sentence judgment tasks, are
indispensable in the defense or criticism of linguistic theories.
To appear in Linguistics, October 2016 John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 2
1. Introduction
Judgments of the acceptability of any given syntactic structure are the bedrock of
arguments in linguistics and in second language acquisition. To take a well-known example, wh-
islands constraints have received a great deal of attention in mainstream linguistics and in the
second language acquisition literature:
(1) *The boy whoi Mary described [the way [that Bill attacked ti]] is here.
(Hawkins and Chan 1997: 191)
Based on acceptability judgments such as (1), practitioners of mainstream generative grammar
have argued that knowledge of the constraints forbidding illicit wh-movements, whether
formulated in terms of Shortest Move (Chomsky 1995), Subjacency (Chomsky 1977), or some
other principle, must be innately specified in Universal Grammar (henceforth, UG). Second
language acquisition theorist Roger Hawkins (2005) accepts the argument that acquisition of an
uninterpretable wh-feature (a feature invisible to the semantic grammar component) allows
native speakers of English to understand that the wh-movements exemplified in in (1) are illicit,
and goes on to argue that, after the critical period (i.e. as teens or adults), native speakers of
languages such as Cantonese or Mandarin Chinese cannot obtain the uninterpretable feature
that is necessary to develop a sensitivity to movement violations such as (1), because this
feature is not selected during their acquisition of Chinese. Without prolonged exposure to
English during the critical period, it will be impossible for them to develop an interlanguage
grammar allowing wh-movement
1
, and consequently, sensitivity to constraints on wh-
1
According to Roger Hawkins, although native speakers of languages that do not allow wh-
movement such as Chinese and Japanese may appear to have acquired wh-movement in
To appear in Linguistics, October 2016 John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 3
movement in English. For this reason, it is argued, adult L1 Chinese learners of English find
English sentences such as (1) acceptable. Thus, acceptability judgments of sentences such as (1)
(and their Chinese equivalents) are part of the foundation of arguments about the nature of the
language faculty, and about the nature of second language acquisition.
The viability of any linguistic argument based on acceptability judgments can only be as
sound as its foundation--the acceptability judgments themselves. Such judgments can vary
according to many different factors, including declarative knowledge of grammar rules, dialect,
discourse context, frequency of use, and the limitations of working memory (Schütze 1996;
Hofmeister and Norcliffe 2013). For these reasons, some prominent linguists have argued that
acceptability judgments be performed formally or experimentally whenever possible so as to
avoid the formulation of a complex chain of reasoning based on faulty foundations or premises
(Gibson and Federenko 2013; Gibson, Piantadosi, and Federenko 2013; Wasow and Arnold
2005). Traditionally, however, acceptability judgments as reported in the syntax literature have
been informal, meaning that they are not administered to large numbers of participants, and
do not employ a factorial design or tests of statistical significance, as is the case for formal
acceptability judgment tasks. Informal acceptability judgments may consist of one researcher
English questions, these appearances are deceiving, and their L2 linguistic performance may not
directly reflect their underlying L2 linguistic competence: “The present study suggests that,
conversely, there may be cases where apparent target-like performance conceals non-target-
like underlying competence. I have argued that although high proficiency L2 speakers of English
with Japanese as their L1 might look like they have acquired wh-movement driven by a [uwh*: ]
feature, it turns out that they have a different representation, one consistent with the claim
that uninterpretable features not present in a speaker’s L1 may be inaccessible in later second
language acquisition” (Roger Hawkins, 2005: 135-136).
To appear in Linguistics, October 2016 John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 4
using personal introspection or consulting with one native speaker of the language to
determine the acceptability of a given construction (Gibson and Fedorenko 2013), or a linguist
who shares his or her judgments with a group of other linguists at a conference (Sprouse and
Alemeida 2013a). Defenders of informal acceptability judgments counter that the use of formal
judgment tasks is not usually necessary, and that the use of informal judgments rarely leads to
arguments based on mistaken premises (Phillips 2009, Sprouse and Alemeida 2013a, Sprouse,
Schütze, and Almeida, 2013). Sprouse and Almeida (2013b) claim that existing data based on
informal acceptability judgments is in no way flawed: “. . .the current state of evidence
suggests that questions about the veracity of existing judgment data may have been a
(historically driven) distraction: there appears to be no evidence that the existing data is faulty,
and growing evidence that the traditional methods are appropriate for the majority of
phenomena of interest to syntacticians(202).
Following Gibson and Fedorenko (2013) and Gibson, Piantadosi, and Fedorenko (2013),
we endorse the use of formal acceptability judgment tasks (henceforth AJTs) or other
quantitative methods to ascertain the nature of the types of grammatical constraints that might
affect a language. The current study presents three previously unpublished experiments from
John Hitz’s 2012 dissertation, providing further support for this position. While Gibson and
Fedorenko’s (2013) experiments focused on implications for mainstream research in syntax, the
experiments reported here have important implications both for mainstream syntax research
and for research in second language acquisition (henceforth SLA). We will show how formal
AJTs can provide data relevant to the accurate formulation of grammatical constraints in native
To appear in Linguistics, October 2016 John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 5
language grammars, which can in turn inform our understanding of potential L1 transfer effects
in the interlanguage grammars of L2 learners.
Hitz intended to elucidate the impact of language transfer in the second language
acquisition of English relative clauses (henceforth, RCs) by native speakers of Turkish and
Chinese, with respect to the acceptability of resumptive pronouns in RCs. Resumptive pronouns
are pronouns which occur in the original (non-displaced) position of a displaced noun phrase, in
a position where an empty gap would otherwise go. Although resumptive pronouns
(henceforth RPs) commonly occur in RCs and other filler-gap constructions across the world’s
languages, languages differ as to whether such pronouns are used productively or not. In
English, for example, RPs have a marginal status and are typically judged by native speakers as
unacceptable, although they do occur in spontaneous speech (Asudeh 2012: 41-43). In
languages such as Hebrew and Arabic, however, RPs are used productively and are fully
grammatical (or even required) in certain types of clauses (Asudeh 2012: 27). Furthermore,
among languages which allow the productive use of resumptive pronouns, there are differences
with regard to which structural positions license RPs and which positions license gaps. Such
cross-linguistic differences in the productivity and structural licensing of RPs create challenges
for L2 learners. For example, L2 learners of English sometimes produce and/or accept
ungrammatical sentences such as in (2a):
(2) a. *The relativesi who we visited themi last night enjoyed the evening.
b. The relativesi who we visited __i last night enjoyed the evening.
To appear in Linguistics, October 2016 John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 6
In (2a), the speaker has inserted a RP (them) in what would normally be the empty gap (or
trace) position of the extracted object, as indicated by ‘__’ in (2b). Relying on the informal
acceptability judgments put forth in the linguistic literature on English, Chinese, and Turkish
RCs, Hitz (2012) assumed that Turkish and English share a common structural feature: both
languages license only gaps (not RPs) in simple (monoclausal) relative clauses, as illustrated in
(2a-b). This is in contrast to Chinese RCs, in which RPs are said to be acceptable in non-subject
positions. Thus, the Chinese equivalent of (2a) should be acceptable. Given this purported
distribution of RPs in Turkish and Chinese RCs, Hitz (2012) hypothesized that native speakers of
Chinese would accept RPs in English RCs, as in (2a), at a higher rate than native speakers of
Turkish would, due to the effects of L1 transfer. He further hypothesized that for reasons
related to processing complexity (Hawkins 2004), RPs would be beneficial for L2 learners’
processing of relative clauses, with this benefit showing up most strongly in the most complex
clause types. Thus, even the Turkish group might accept RPs at a higher rate than the control
group, and both learner groups should accept RPs in prepositional object relatives at a higher
rate than in subject relatives. Contrary to the L1 transfer hypothesis, no statistically significant
group differences between the L1 Chinese and L1 Turkish speakers were found. Rather, the two
learner groups (but not the native speaker group) accepted RPs to a greater extent in direct
object and prepositional object RCs as compared with subject RCs (as would be expected on a
processing account), but there was no difference between the two learner groups (thus
apparently no L1 transfer effect).
To investigate the reason for this lack of group differences, Hitz conducted two follow-
up experiments investigating the acceptability of RPs in Turkish RCs and in Mandarin Chinese
To appear in Linguistics, October 2016 John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 7
RCs according to native speakers of these languages. The results show that a likely reason for a
lack of group differences in the English tasks can be traced to faulty assumptions about the
distribution of RPs in Turkish and Chinese. Specifically, these follow-up experiments revealed
that RPs were more acceptable than expected in Turkish RCs, and less acceptable than
expected in Chinese RCs. Thus the two languages were much more similar to each other than
the prevailing linguistics literature about the RP distributions in both languages had indicated.
As to the reason for the difference between the control group (which consistently failed to
accept RPs) and the two learner groups (which accepted RPs in non-subject positions to some
extent), either a transfer account or a processing account is equally plausible given the similar
results for the Turkish and Chinese tasks, and in fact both of these factors could be at work at
the same time. The data from these experiments do not let us draw any firm conclusions on this
matter.
To sum up, the apparently faulty transfer hypotheses formulated by Hitz (2012) in his
investigations of the second-language acquisition of English RCs can be attributed to the trust
he placed in the informal judgments of the distribution of RPs as reported in linguistic studies of
Chinese and Turkish RCs. The results of Hitz’s (2012) experiments have both theoretical and
methodological implications. For theories of formal syntax, the results point toward revised
formulations of the anti-locality conditions proposed to account for the different RP
distributions in Turkish (Kornfilt 2000) and Chinese (Hu and Liu 2007): the restrictions on
allowable RP positions apparently need to be more permissive for Turkish but stricter for
Mandarin Chinese. From our own functionalist perspective, these data lend support to
Hawkins’ (2004) model of performance-grammar correspondence and, more specifically, the
To appear in Linguistics, October 2016 John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 8
idea that RP distributions across languages are at least partially a reflex of processing
complexity as defined in terms of filler-gap domain size. Notably, both the similarities and
differences that were found between RP distributions in Turkish and Chinese corresponded to
filler-gap domain sizes for these languages as defined by Hawkins (2004). Finally, with respect
to methodology in linguistics, it appears that using formal AJTs or other quantitative measures
can reduce the possibility that SLA researchers will make mistaken claims for or against
language transfer, or that theoretical linguists will use inaccurate linguistic descriptions to build
theories of syntax.
In the following pages, we first of all discuss the use and non-use of experimental data
as the basis for argumentation in linguistics, and then present one of the reasons why
experimental evidence is necessary: to provide a clear pattern of data that can support a
particular theory. We then examine the data from three AJTs, as previously summarized.
1.1 The Use and Non-Use of Formal AJTs in Mainstream Linguistics
Phillips (2009) claimed that there are no cases in which faulty informal acceptability
judgments have become the basis for faulty linguistic theorizing. In response, Gibson and
Federenko (2013) cite several previous studies and three additional cases in which apparently
faulty informal judgments have formed the basis for theoretical claims in the literature. Of the
three cases they discuss, the first involves multiply embedded relative clauses in English, while
the second and third involve English interrogatives containing multiple wh-expressions. For all
three cases, the authors provide experimental evidence showing that formally-collected
acceptability judgments fail to replicate grammaticality contrasts presented in the literature. In
To appear in Linguistics, October 2016 John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 9
their reply to Gibson and Fedorenko (2013), Sprouse and Almeida (2013a) come to the defense
of informal acceptability judgments. They argue that little can be concluded from the three case
studies cited by Gibson and Fedorenko (2013) due to the small size and the non-random nature
of the sample, and go on to cite a 95% convergence rate between the informal judgments of
linguistic structures provided by researchers in randomly selected issues of Linguistic Inquiry
(for 150 minimal pairs) and judgments of these same structures provided by experimental
participants in a series of formal acceptability judgment tasks developed by Sprouse, Schütze
and Almeida (2013a) (for 2400 items based on the structures in the original 150 minimal pairs).
In short, of the total number of informal acceptability judgments investigated by Sprouse et al.,
only 5% of them were not in agreement with the results of formal AJTs of the same linguistic
phenomena. These results lead Sprouse and Almeida (2013a) to conclude that neither formal
nor informal acceptability judgment tasks are necessarily better than one another in any
absolute sense, and that selecting the type of judgment task depends on the type of linguistic
phenomena that are being investigated. For Sprouse and Almeida (2013a), formal acceptability
judgments should be preferred in two areas: firstly, in testing hypotheses about the roles of
syntactic constraints versus working memory constraints, and secondly, in exploring the
mechanisms that underlie gradient acceptability judgments.
An issue that Sprouse and Almeida (2013a) do not address is how linguists can identify
those gradient patterns of judgments that might shed light on the relative contributions of
gradient and non-gradient mechanisms in sentence generation. If linguists primarily use
informal acceptability judgments, they run the risk of misidentifying gradient patterns as
categorical patterns. As Wasow (2007) observes, informal acceptability judgments as used in
To appear in Linguistics, October 2016 John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 10
research on generative grammar tend to allow only two options: “acceptable” or
“unacceptable,” and may therefore potentially misconstrue a gradient phenomenon in need of
a more complex explanation as a simpler categorical phenomenon. An examination of the
English and Chinese-language AJTs to be discussed in Sections 2 and 3 reveal a gradient pattern
of data that informal judgments of the same linguistic phenomena did not show, and therefore
demonstrates that the use of formal acceptability judgments may shed light on linguistic
phenomena in need of a more sophisticated explanation than can be provided by means of a
categorical grammatical rule.
Even aside from the issue of gradience, the current study shows a different relative
pattern of judgments than expected for the acceptability of RPs in both Turkish and Chinese.
Given the relatively low error rate reported in Sprouse, Schütze and Almeida (2013), why
should it be that two experiments on two different languages and populations of speakers
yielded unexpected patterns of results? It could be that certain types of linguistic phenomena
(in this case, RP distributions) may be more prone to variability across speakers or errors in
informal judgments than others. Given that the nature of the phenomenon was what the two
experiments had in common, this provides a plausible post-hoc explanation for the results.
However, as Gibson et al. (2013: 233) point out in their reply to Sprouse and Almeida (2013a),
there is no way of knowing in advance which grammaticality contrasts will be among those that
cannot be replicated in a formal experiment. Thus, there is no reliable manner of determining
whether to trust informal judgments in any particular case, except perhaps for obvious
constraints on constituent order (e.g., *book a), for which informal judgments could almost
certainly be trusted.
To appear in Linguistics, October 2016 John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 11
If informal judgments are not always reliable for showing contrasts in grammaticality, as
Gibson et al. (2013) argue, then neither are they up to the task of theory building:
The experiments are necessary in all cases because they provide the only
way to objectively measure discrepancies between theory and reality. Theories
evaluated only by the intuitions of the investigators involved, are almost
necessarily post hoc. This is because, lacking quantitative standards, we have
little possibility to be wrong and discover discrepancies between theory and
data. Such discrepancies drive scientific progress, and while expert intuitions
provide a rich source of hypotheses to investigate, reliable evaluation of such
hypotheses requires more sophisticated quantitative methods. (Gibson,
Piantadosi and Federenko, 2013: 10)
The AJTs presented here support Gibson et al.’s (2013) position: they cast doubt on previous
theoretical proposals for syntactic constraints on RPs in Turkish and Mandarin, while supporting
the Filler-Gap Domain complexity ranking for relative clause types as proposed by Hawkins
(2004). The problems for existing theoretical proposals will be elaborated within the
experiment discussions in Sections 3-4. To highlight the positive contribution of this work in
supporting Hawkins’ (2004) theory, we outline the major features of the theory in the following
section.
To appear in Linguistics, October 2016 John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 12
1.2 Hawkins’ (2004) theory of RP use and relative clause complexity
Hawkins (2004) presents a theory of RP use and relative clause complexity which is
embedded within his more general model of performance-grammar correspondence. The
Performance-Grammar Correspondence Hypothesis (henceforth, PGCH), on which this general
model is based, is as follows:
Grammars have conventionalized syntactic structures in proportion to their
degree of preference in performance, as evidenced by patterns of selection in
corpora and by ease of processing in psycholinguistic experiments. (Hawkins
2004: 3)
The hypothesis states that many syntactic constraints which disallow a particular structural
configuration have their origins in constraints on language processing, and that we can find
evidence for this in patterns of usage and in psycholinguistic experiments on languages that are
not subject to these syntactic constraints but which instead allow more than one syntactic
option. Applied to the case of RPs, we can observe that cross-linguistically, RPs tend to be
grammatically required more often as RC complexity increases. This observation was first
developed by Keenan and Comrie (1977) and formulated in terms of a Noun Phrase
Accessibility Hierarchy that measured complexity in terms of the function of the relativized
element, where subject RCs are simplest, followed by direct object, indirect object, oblique, and
genitive RCs. In Keenan and Comrie’s (1977) sample of 26 languages that have grammatically
licensed RPs, all require a gap in subject RCs, the majority require a gap in direct object RCs, and
the majority require an RP in indirect object and oblique RCs. Likewise, in performance, we can
observe that children acquiring their first language (McKee and McDaniel 2001) and adults
To appear in Linguistics, October 2016 John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 13
acquiring a second language (Tezel 1998) are more likely to produce or accept an
“ungrammatical” RP (i.e., an RP that is used in a position deemed ungrammatical by adult
native speakers of the target language) as RC complexity increases. Similarly, for languages that
optionally allow either gap or RP in particular positions, such as Hebrew (Ariel 1999) and
Cantonese (Francis et al. 2015), corpus and experimental data show that speakers are more
likely to produce an RP as RC complexity increases. These three types of evidence (cross-
linguistic patterns of syntactic constraints, language acquisition, and language use) support
Hawkins’ proposal that RP use (whether grammatically required or not) is linked to RC
complexity, which is in turn linked to processing complexity.
As a refinement of Keenan and Comrie’s Noun Phrase Accessiblity Hierarchy, Hawkins
(1999, 2004) proposes a revised ranking of RC complexity based on the notion of Filler-Gap
Domain, which is defined as follows:
An FGD [Filler-Gap-Domain] consists of the smallest set of terminal and non-
terminal nodes dominated by the mother of a filler and on a connected path that
must be accessed for gap identification and processing; for subcategorized
gaps the path connects the filler to a co-indexed subcategorizor and includes, or
is extended to include, any additional arguments of the subcategorizor on which
the gap depends for its processing; for non-subcategorized gaps the path
connects the filler to the head category that constructs the mother node
containing the co-indexed gap; all constituency relations and co-occurrence
requirements holding between these nodes belong in the description of the FGD.
(2004: 175)
To appear in Linguistics, October 2016 John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 14
The terms “filler,” “subcategorizer,”and “gap” are illustrated in the following example:
(3) [NPThe girli [whoi Sarah helped ___i]]
In this example, the filler, girl, must be held in working memory until it can be associated or co-
indexed with the appropriate gap after helped.
2
The subcategorizor, helped, is the constituent
that determines the RC's argument structure. In this case, the subcategorizor requires an agent,
Sarah, and a theme. The filler-gap domain consists of the constituents and nodes after the.
Following Hawkins basic style of tree diagram, Figure 1 illustrates the FGD in sentence (3):
2
Especially in studies of English, the wh-relative pronoun who is often assumed to be the filler.
However, Hawkins (1999: 251) instead classifies the head noun as the filler in a relative clause,
and calls the co-indexed relative pronoun a “filler copy.” The motivation for this is so that FGD
can be defined cross-linguistically to include languages such as Mandarin and Turkish that lack
an overt wh-pronoun in relative clauses, without having to necessarily assume wh-movement
of null relative pronouns in these languages. We acknowledge that Hawkins’ terminology may
be considered non-standard, but note that re-defining the filler as the (overt or covert) wh-
pronoun would have no effect on the relative rankings of FGD size that Hawkins proposes, and
thus would not affect our interpretation of the current results.
To appear in Linguistics, October 2016 John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 15
Figure 1. The FGD in an English RC (Adapted from Hawkins, 1999, p. 250)
The FGD in sentence (3) consists of 8 nodes: Ni, the filler girl; NP1, the mother of the filler; S;
the filler copy (whoi); NP2; N (Sarah); VP; and V, the subcategorizer helped. The FGD in an
English subject RC consists of 6 nodes (since the VP is not included), and the FGD of an RC with
a relativized object of a preposition consists of 10 nodes (since PP and P are added).
3
Thus, for
English, Hawkins’ FGD complexity ranking aligns with Keenan and Comrie’s Noun Phrase
Accessibility Hierarchy: subject < direct object < oblique object.
3
An anonymous reviewer notes that Hawkins’ metric of complexity does not take the degree to
which the RC is embedded in a matrix clause into account, and cites Wasow’s (2002) claim that
node-counting is not the only viable measure of complexity. We agree that Hawkins’
complexity metric has these limitations. However, since our experiments manipulated RC
complexity only on this basis, and obtained results consistent with the proposed complexity
ranking, we believe these other factors (such as depth of embedding of the NP within the
matrix clause, which was held constant in the experiments) are not pertinent to understanding
the current data.
whoi
NP2
V
N
NPi
helped
S
VP
Det
Ni
the
girli
NP1
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 16
As detailed in the following sections, the results of all three experiments are consistent
with the predictions of Hawkins’ (2004: 178-180) complexity ranking, and as such, provide
support for the PGCH. For English, the two non-native speaker groups rated direct object and
prepositional object RCs containing an RP slightly (but significantly) higher than subject RCs
containing an RP. This can be interpreted as a performance-based complexity effect, although
(as we will see) an account based on L1 transfer cannot be ruled out. For Mandarin Chinese,
native speakers rated subject and direct object RCs with an RP as unacceptable, while rating
indirect object RCs with an RP as marginally acceptable. Although the similarity between
subject and object RCs was unexpected based on previous studies that relied on informal
judgments, this similarity is predicted by Hawkins’ complexity ranking for Chinese (which, to be
explained below, differs from the complexity rankings for English and Turkish in that subject
RCs and object RCs have equal FGDs). Finally, for Turkish, native speakers rated direct object
and indirect object/oblique RCs with an RP significantly higher than subject RCs with an RP.
Again, the results were contrary to studies of Turkish syntax which have claimed that RPs are
unacceptable in all three positions, but compatible with Hawkins’ complexity ranking.
In our discussion of each experiment that follows, we will show how Hawkins’ FGD
complexity ranking can help explain the pattern of data we have obtained, and we will argue
that informal sentence judgments, as used in most of the previous studies of the RP
distributions in Mandarin and Turkish, could not provide a convincing basis to support or refute
a particular theoretical position.
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 17
2. Acceptability judgment task 1: English
In order to illustrate our point regarding the need for quantitative data in linguistic
argumentation, and to provide support for the Hawkins’ FGD complexity ranking, we turn to
Hitz’s study of language transfer in second language acquisition (SLA). SLA scholars have hotly
debated the importance of language transfer, and have not been able to reach a consensus
about its importance (Odlin 2003). Because further investigation seemed justified, an English-
language acceptability judgment task was designed and administered to native speakers of
English, Mandarin Chinese, and Turkish.
2.1 Hypotheses
The majority of published studies appear to agree that RPs are highly acceptable in
some Chinese RCs, whereas they are for the most part banned from English and Turkish RCs.
4
That being the case, we postulated that L1 influence would cause L1 Mandarin Chinese
speakers to find RPs in English RCs with relativized direct objects and objects of prepositions
more acceptable than L1 Turkish speakers at statistically significant levels. This hypothesis was
motivated by SLA studies performed by Gass (1979) and Hyltenstam (1984), which claim that L2
learners are likely to accept resumptive pronouns in the L2 if they are grammaticalized in the
L1. Furthermore, we postulated that both L2 groups would find RPs in English RCs most
4
As stated earlier, Keenan and Comrie (1977), Tezel (1998), Kornfilt (2000), and Cağri (2005)
claim that RPs are not acceptable in Turkish RCs with relativized subjects, direct objects,
indirect objects, and oblique objects, while scholars of Chinese claim that RPs unacceptable in
subject RCs, optional in Chinese direct object RCs, and mandatory in indirect object RCs and in
RCs with relativized objects of prepositions (Keenan and Comrie, 1977; Xu and Langendoen,
1985; Hawkins and Chan, 1997; Hsiao, 2003; Hu and Liu, 2007).
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 18
acceptable in prepositional object RCs, somewhat less acceptable in direct object RCs, and least
acceptable in subject RCs, due to the increasing levels of processing complexity in these three
RC types, as operationalized in terms of Hawkins’ (2004) idea of filler-gap domains as discussed
previously in Section 1.2. In contrast, native English speakers should find RPs categorically
unacceptable across all RC types.
5
2.2 Methodology
2.2.1 Design
An acceptability judgment task was constructed following principles described by
Cowart (1997). The experimental items in the task consisted of eight token sets representing six
experimental conditions each for a total of 48 experimental items. A sample token set is given
in Table 1.
In a token set, the experimental items have the same vocabulary, and differ from one
another only in terms of the factors manipulated by the experimenter. As shown in the sample
token set in Table 1, two factors were manipulated: Pronoun (presence/absence of a RP), a
factor with two levels, and RC Type, a factor with three levels (Subject, Direct Object,
Prepositional Object) that differ from one another in their position on the FGD complexity
ranking, as discussed in Section 1.2 above.
5
Given that Hofmeister and Norcliffe’s (2013) study of RP processing by native English speakers
found no processing advantage for RPs in simple direct object RCs, we believe that the sentence
materials in the current study are simple enough that native speakers will show no measurable
complexity effects.
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 19
Hawkins (1999, 2004) argues that resumptive pronouns aid in the processing of RCs, and
tend to increase in acceptability across languages with the size of the filler-gap domain: The
presence of this resumptive or copy pronoun can be argued to make the processing of head
and relative clause easier, since an empty category no longer needs to be inferred from its
environment but is given formal expression” (257). We therefore expected that the non-native
English speakers would be more likely to accept RPs in the direct and prepositional object
conditions than in the simpler subject RCs.
Table 1 illustrates that the experimental items had relativized subjects, direct objects,
and objects of prepositions, RC types whose FGDs increase in length respectively6 in a
gapped subject RC, 8, in a gapped direct object RC, and 10 in gapped RC with a relativized
object of a preposition.
Table 1. Sample Token Set for Acceptability Judgment Task 1: English
Subject RC with Resumptive Pronoun
The relativesi [whoi theyi visited us last night] enjoyed the evening.
Subject RC with Gap
The relativesi [whoi ____i visited us last night] enjoyed the evening.
Direct Object RC with Resumptive Pronoun
The relativesi [whoi we visited themi last night] enjoyed the evening.
Direct Object RC with Gap
The relativesi [whoi we visited ____i last night] enjoyed the evening.
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 20
Prepositional Object RC with Resumptive Pronoun
The relativesi [who we paid a visit to themi] last night enjoyed the evening.
Prepositional Object RC with Gap
The relativesi [who we paid a visit to ___i] last night enjoyed the evening.
For the third relative clause type shown in Table 1, items with stranded prepositions
were used: The relatives who we paid a visit to last night enjoyed the evening. Alternatively,
fronted prepositions could have been used, such as The relatives to whom we paid a visit last
night enjoyed the evening. RCs with stranded prepositions were chosen in light of Bardovi-
Harlig's (1987) finding that L2 English learners acquired stranded prepositions before they
acquired pied-piped prepositions, even in EFL contexts, mainly because stranded prepositions
occur more frequently in the L2 input with which L2 English learners are surrounded.
Fifty-six filler sentences of varying length and acceptability were combined with the 48
experimental sentences for a grand total of 104 items. All items were randomized according to
procedures described in Cowart (1997) and organized in the form of a written questionnaire
which was distributed to participants in two versions in which items were ordered differently
from one another. Participants were asked to rate items on a 4 point scale in which 1=certainly
incorrect, 2=possibly incorrect, 3=possibly correct, and 4=certainly correct.
2.2.2. Participants
Thirty-three native speakers of Turkish, 35 native speakers of Mandarin Chinese, and 34
native speakers of English were recruited from the student body at Purdue University in West
Lafayette, Indiana, USA, to participate in the study. They were majoring in a variety of academic
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 21
subjects, and none had coursework or training in linguistics. Demographic data concerning the
participants appear in Table 2.
Table 2. Participants’ Demographic Data for Acceptability Judgment Task 1: English
2.2.3. Experimental procedures
At the beginning of each testing session, biodata forms were distributed. Non-native
speakers completed the Michigan Placement Test in approximately 30 minutes, followed by a
short break of 10-15 minutes.6 All participants completed a written questionnaire containing
the English-language sentence judgment task. The instructions, derived from Cowart (1997:
57), were read aloud, after which participants answered four practice items with the facilitation
of the experimenter. The non-native speakers completed the task in approximately 45 minutes
6 The Reading and Grammar sections of the Michigan Placement Test were administered in
order to ensure that both groups of L2 English participants had similar levels of English
language proficiency, a procedure designed to ensure that L2 language proficiency was not an
experimental confound.
Number of
Participants
Mean Age
Sex
L1 Mandarin
Chinese
35
22
11 Males,
24 Females
L1 Turkish
33
28
17 Males,
16 Females
Native
Speakers of
English
34
21
17 Males,
17 Females
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 22
to 1 hour, while the native speakers took about 30 minutes to complete the same task. All
participants were paid 10 dollars for each hour of their participation.
2.2.4 Statistical tests used to analyze the data
This study employs a 3-way factorial research design, with Language (L1 Background) as
a between-subjects factor. RC Type and Pronoun (Presence/Absence of RP) were within-
subjects factors.
A mixed-model analysis of variance was used to analyze the patterns of acceptability
judgments. This procedure is a parametric statistical test that can ideally state that the
variation between the different L1 groups' acceptability judgments is caused by an interaction
of three different fixed factors: L1 background, RC type, and the presence/absence of RPs. In
this respect, it is similar to standard ANOVA procedures. The test differs from a standard
ANOVA in that it has one random factor (research participants) in addition to the fixed factors7,
and in its output, which does not include an error term because it is already factored into the
statistical test itself (SAS Institute Inc., 1999: 2175). Despite the fact that this test does not
include an error term in its output, the survey results have been adjusted so that the effects of
sample sizes can be accounted for. Least Squares Means tests with Tukey adjustments8 were
applied to the data to identify which particular differences between L1 groups' acceptability
judgments caused main effects and interactions.
7 A random factor is an experimental variable that the researcher has not controlled, whereas
fixed factors have been controlled (Littell, Stroup, and Freund, 2002).
8 Tukey adjustments are necessary to control for the possibility of Type 1 error caused by
multiple tests of statistical significance (Leavitt, 2002).
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 23
2.3 Results and discussion
The results of the Michigan English Placement test administered to L1 Turkish and
Chinese speakers show almost identical results. Out of a total of 80 multiple-choice questions,
the L1 Chinese speakers answered 91% correctly, and the L1 Turkish speakers answered 92%
correctly. A Mann-Whitney test showed no statistically significant differences between the
proficiency test scores (z=-.542, p=.410).
None of the transfer-related hypotheses were supported; there were no statistically
significant differences between native speakers of English, Turkish, and Chinese in their
judgments of RCs with relativized direct objects and objects of prepositions in the resumptive
condition.9 Figure 2 shows that there were few outstanding differences between the native-
and non-native speakers on AJT 1.
9 A more detailed analysis of the statistics that support this conclusion can be found in Appendix
A, Table 2.
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 24
Figure 2. English AJT: Mean Ratings of Experimental Items10
10 The error bars represent the standard error of the mean. Exact values and standard
deviations associated with each data point represented in Figure 2 can be seen in Appendix A,
Table 1.
1
1.5
2
2.5
3
3.5
4
Subject Direct Object Prep. Object
Rating Scale (1=certainly correct; 4= certainly incorrect)
L1 Mandarin Gaps
L1 Turkish Gaps
L1 English Gaps
L1 Mandarin Resumptives
L1 Turkish Resumptives
L1 English Resumptives
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 25
The data from AJT 1 demonstrate another reason to perform formal sentence judgment
tasks: their ability to depict gradient patterns of data. Although AJT 1 did not show a predicted
transfer effect, it did display a gradient pattern of data in that the non-native speakers of
English found non-subject RCs in the RP condition to be more acceptable than the subject RCs.
Statistical comparisons within L1 groups showed that L1 Turkish and L1 Chinese speakers both
found direct object RCs with RPs to be more acceptable than subject RCs with RPs. For L1
Chinese speakers, this difference approached significance (t=3.410, p= .069), while for L1
Turkish speakers this difference was highly significant (t=4.190, p= .004). Similarly, within-
groups comparisons showed that the L1 Chinese speakers found RCs with prepositional RCs in
the RP condition to be more acceptable than subject RCs with RPs at a statistically significant
level (t= 3.640, p=.033). For Turkish speakers, on the other hand, the apparent difference
between prepositional RCs with RPs and subject RCs with RPs was not significant (t= 2.74,
p= .355). To the extent that RPs were more acceptable in non-subject positions as compared
with subject positions, these findings for the two L2 groups are consistent with Hawkins’ FGD
complexity ranking and may reflect a slightly greater processing cost for comprehending non-
subject RCs.
In contrast to the non-native speakers, within-groups comparisons of native English
speakers’ judgments of items with RPs showed no statistically significant differences: the
comparison of ratings assigned to subject RCs in the resumptive condition with ratings assigned
to direct objects with RPs was not statistically significant (t= -.120, p= 1.000), nor was the
comparison between ratings assigned to subject RCs with RPs and RCs with relativized objects
of prepositions with RPs (t= .480, p= 1.000). The consistently low ratings given to RCs with RPs
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 26
by native adult English speakers are congruent with informal acceptability judgments of these
structures, and with experimental evidence obtained by McKee and McDaniel (2001).
As stated earlier, we reasoned that the absence of any transfer effect might have been
caused by incorrect assumptions about the distributions of RPs in Chinese and Turkish RCs. In
order to explore this possibility, we designed AJTs in these languages.
3. Acceptability judgment task 2: Mandarin Chinese
3.1 Hypotheses
In this study, our hypotheses were based on the "consensus opinion" mentioned in the
introduction, which states that Mandarin Chinese does not allow RPs in RCs with relativized
subjects, that they are optional and alternate with gaps in RCs with relativized direct objects,
and that they are mandatory in RCs with relativized indirect objects and objects of prepositions
(Keenan and Comrie 197; Xu and Langendoen 1985; Hawkins and Chan, 1997; Hsiao, 2003; Hu
and Liu, 2007). Therefore, we expected sentences with RPs to receive low acceptability ratings
in subject RCs, but significantly higher ratings in direct object and indirect object RCs. With
respect to gapped clauses, we expected subject RCs and direct object RCs to receive high
acceptability ratings, with significantly lower ratings given to indirect object RCs.
3.2 Methodology
3.2.1 Design
As illustrated in (4), Chinese has an unusual word order typology in which SVO clause
order is combined with a head-final NP structure. The relative clause (Paul zhaogu de) precedes
its head noun (nuren), and thus the gap (in this case, an object gap) precedes its filler.
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 27
(4) [S Paul [VP zhaogu __i] de] nage nureni likai le
Paul look.after __ REL DET woman leave PERF
"The woman that Paul looked after has left."
Due to this unusual word order, Hawkins (2004: 180) proposes that subject RCs and
object RCs do not differ in terms of FGD in a transitive clause. Thus, the RC types represented in
our Chinese stimuli showed a slightly different pattern of FGDs than those in the English stimuli.
Because the direct object intervenes between the subcategorizing verb and the head noun, the
FGD for a subject RC in a transitive sentence must include the direct object (unlike in English,
where the direct object does not intervene between the head noun and the verb). Thus, for a
transitive clause structure, both subject and object RCs have a FGD of 8.11 Indirect object RCs
(which are comparable to the prepositional object RCs in our English stimuli) must include both
the subject and the direct object within the FGD, increasing the FGD to 10 in our stimuli. A tree
diagram in the style of Hawkins (2004: 178) illustrates the RC from sentence (4) in Figure 3.
11 An anonymous reviewer suggests that the node counts on which Hawkins’ complexity metric
is based may not be useful for comparing languages with head-initial vs. head-final NPs.
However, Hawkins’ metric was designed precisely to be able to compare across different
language types and to explain generalizations (such as cross-linguistic patterns of RP
distribution) that occur in languages with different word order typologies. As far as we are
aware, Hawkins’ theory is the only one that states that Mandarin Chinese subject and direct
object RCs should be equal to one another in RC complexity due to the mixed word-order
typology of Chinese, a claim consistent with the results we have obtained.
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 28
Figure 3. The FGD of a Chinese RC
The experimental items in AJT 2 consisted of 24 sentences containing Mandarin Chinese
RCs with relativized subjects, direct objects, and indirect objects. The design was almost
identical to that of the English AJT, except that there was only one participant group: native
speakers of Mandarin. As in the English AJT, two within-group factors were manipulated: RC
Type (subject, direct object, and indirect object), and Pronoun (presence/absence of RP).
Experimental items consisted of four token sets, which were developed with the assistance of a
native speaker of Mandarin Chinese and an L2 speaker of Mandarin Chinese, both of whom had
training in linguistics. A sample token set illustrating all six conditions can be seen in Table 3.12
12 An anonymous reviewer states that 24 item sets should have been created, and that these
items should have been distributed in 6 lists under a Latin Square design. We agree that the
limited number of token sets limits the generalizability of the results. It will be shown, however,
that the results harmonize with recent experimental research performed by Francis et al. (2015)
and with data obtained by Ning, Christianson, and Lin (2014).
S
NPi
NP
N
VP
V
NPi
Ni
DE
NPi
Det Ni
Paul
look after
woman
the
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 29
Table 3. Sample Token Set for Acceptability Judgment Task 2: Mandarin Chinese
Subject RC with Resumptive Pronoun
[Stai zhaogu Paul de] nage nureni likai le
3SG look.after Paul REL DET woman leave PERF
"The woman that she looked after Paul has left."
Subject RC with Gap
[S__i VP zhaogu Paul de] nage nureni likai le
__ look.after Paul REL DET woman leave PERF
"The woman that looked after Paul has left."
Direct Object RC with Resumptive Pronoun
[S Paul [VP zhaogu tai] de] nage nureni likai le
Paul look.after 3SG REL DET woman leave PERF
"The woman that Paul looked after her has left."
Direct Object RC with Gap
[S Paul [VP zhaogu __i] de] nage nureni likai le
Paul look.after __ REL DET woman leave PERF
"The woman that Paul looked after has left."
Indirect Object RC with Resumptive Pronoun
[S Paul [VP gei tai zhaogu] de] nage nureni likai le
Paul give 3SG care REL DET woman leave PERF
"The woman that Paul showed concern to her has left."
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 30
Indirect Object RC with Gap
[S Paul [VP gei __i zhaogu] de] nage nureni likai le
Paul give __ care REL DET woman leave PERF
"The woman that Paul showed concern to has left."
The experimental tokens were supplemented by 24 grammatical and ungrammatical fillers,
which were translated from English by a native speaker of Mandarin Chinese. The entire
instrument had 48 items altogether, which were randomized according to procedures discussed
in Cowart (1997) and then distributed to participants in two separate versions of the
questionnaire with different sequences of items. As in AJT 1, participants rated the items on a 4
point scale (1=certainly incorrect, 2=possibly incorrect, 3=possibly correct, and 4=certainly
correct).
After the results of the acceptability judgment task were reviewed and analyzed, it was
found that one of the token sets had flawed items in the indirect object condition. As a result,
all six items from the flawed token set were excluded from the pool of analyzable data. Thus,
three token sets that contained a total of 18 experimental items were included in the pool of
analyzable data. 13
3.2.2 Participants
All 32 participants were native speakers of Mandarin Chinese and were studying at
Purdue University in a variety of academic majors. Of the 32 participants, 16 were males, 16
were females, and 7 had previously participated as non-native speakers in the English AJT. The
13 For a more detailed explanation of the rationale for excluding these items, see Hitz (2012),
177-179.
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 31
majority of participants (30) were citizens of the People's Republic of China; the remaining
participants (2) were citizens of Taiwan.14 The participants' average age was 22.2 years old.
3.2.3 Procedures
Firstly, the experimenter distributed the participant biodata form. After these forms
were collected, paper copies of the judgment task were distributed, and participants completed
the AJT on paper. The directions for completing the questionnaire were written in English and
Mandarin Chinese. The experimenter read the directions in English because he did not know
Mandarin, and asked if there were any questions about them. He explained that the same
directions were written in Mandarin on the questionnaire. Then, he asked the participants to
read and evaluate 5 practice sentences. Most participants completed the questionnaire in
approximately 20 minutes, and each volunteer received 10 dollars for participating.
3.2.4 Tests of statistical significance
This study used a 2-way factorial research design, with subjects repeated on the RC Type
and Pronoun variables. As in the English-language AJT, the statistical procedure employed a
mixed model, this time with two fixed factors, RC Type and Pronoun, and one random factor,
participants. The RC Type variable has three levels: subject, direct object, and indirect object,
and the Pronoun variable has two levels: presence/absence of RP. After the mixed-model
procedure determined the variables that qualified as main effects and interactions, Tukey-
14 Although L2 speakers of Mandarin are very common in the PRC, such participants were
excluded based on the recruitment materials and biodata forms.
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 32
Adjusted Least Squares Means Tests (hereafter, TALMS tests) were used to determine the
differences between item types that caused the main effects and interactions.15
3.3 Results and discussion
There was a highly significant main effect of Pronoun (F (1,31), F= 332.370, p <. 001) due
to the overall greater acceptability of gapped clauses as compared with resumptives. The lack
of any main effect of RC Type (F (2,62), F= 2.160, p= .124) results from the highly significant
interaction between Pronoun and RC Type (F (2,62), F= 54.830, p < .001), whereby acceptability
ratings for gapped clauses vs. resumptives went in opposite directions across the three types of
RCs. This interaction is shown in Figure 4.
15 Main effects and interactions of various factors are presented in Appendix B, Table 2.
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 33
Figure 4. Mean Ratings of Mandarin Chinese RCs16
The lower line in Figure 4 shows that RPs gain in acceptability as the level of embedding
increases across RC types. In contrast, the acceptability of gapped RCs decreases in tandem
with the level of embedding, as indicated by the upper line. TALMS tests verify that these
trends were statistically significant for some comparisons. RPs were more acceptable in indirect
object RCs than in subject RCs at a statistically significant level (t= 5.980, p < .001), and were
also more acceptable in indirect object RCs than in direct object RCs (t= -4.460, p < .001).
However, gapped RCs decreased in acceptability as their syntactic complexity increased.
Gapped indirect object RCs were less acceptable than gapped direct object RCs at a statistically
16 In figure 4, the error bars indicate the standard error of the mean. Exact values for each data
point, as well as the standard deviations, can be seen in Appendix B, Table 1.
1
1.5
2
2.5
3
3.5
4
Subject Direct Object Indirect Object
Mean Rating
RC Type
RP Condition
Gapped Condition
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 34
significant level (t= 7.380, p < .001), and were also less acceptable than gapped subject RCs (t= -
7.640, p < .001).
These results run contrary to our original hypotheses based on the consensus opinion in
Chinese linguistics. We had predicted that RPs would be highly acceptable in direct and indirect
object RCs, and unacceptable only in subject RCs. Although our predictions with respect to
subject RCs were borne out, our results showed that RPs were in fact unacceptable in direct
object RCs (average rating: 1.635) and were only of borderline acceptability in indirect object
RCs (average rating: 2.364). With respect to gapped clauses, our predictions were correct for
subject RCs and direct object RCs: both were highly acceptable, with ratings of 3.948 and 3.906,
respectively. These results therefore cast doubt on theoretical proposals based on the
consensus opinion in Chinese linguistics. For example, Hu and Liu (2007: 269) propose that RPs
are disallowed in subject position but are optional in direct object position, with the latter
optionality explained in terms of an alternation between null and overt RPs. However, if (overt)
RPs are judged as equally unacceptable in subject and direct object position, as the current
study has shown, the most straightforward syntactic analysis would be to treat direct object
relatives as similar to subject relatives but different from indirect object relatives (which do
permit overt RPs).
Also contrary to our original predictions, indirect object RCs with gaps (average rating:
2.697), were more acceptable than indirect object RCs with RPs (average rating: 2.365).
Although these did not differ statistically (t= -2.040, p=.334), we had predicted a difference in
the opposite direction. The judgments of the indirect object RCs are gradient in that they were
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 35
neither completely acceptable, nor completely unacceptable to the experimental participants.
This finding contrasts with the majority of published and presumably informal sentence
judgments of Chinese indirect object RCs, which state categorically that gapped indirect objects
are unacceptable, and that indirect object RCs with resumptives are acceptable (Keenan and
Comrie 1977: 93; Hawkins and Chan 1997: 192; Hu and Liu 2007: 269). Thus, our data illustrate
that gradient effects cannot as easily be uncovered by informal sentence judgments or be
predicted in advance, and illustrate the need for quantitative data that might depict or at least
control for any possible gradient effects.
Although our results do not verify the consensus view on which our hypotheses were
based, they are consistent with Hawkins’ (2004) prediction that RPs and gaps in any language
should be distributed in accordance with hierarchies of RC complexity which predict a greater
probability of grammaticalized RPs in more complex RCs, and a greater probability of
grammaticalized gaps in simpler RCs (2004: 186). This prediction is borne out in the differences
found between subject and direct object RCs (which preferred gaps) and indirect object RCs (for
which there was no clear preference). Furthermore, Hawkins (2004: 180) makes the specific
observation that in languages like Chinese, with a SVO clause order and head-final NP, subject
RCs and direct object RCs do not differ terms of FGD size. As in other language types, the
subject NP is included within the FGD for a direct object relative. Unlike other language types
(and as noted above), the direct object in a subject relative intervenes between the head noun
and the subcategorizing verb, thus requiring the direct object NP to be included within the FGD
of a subject relative and making the FGD of a subject relative just as long as for an object
relative (whereas for other language types, subject relatives would have a shorter FGD than
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 36
object relatives). Because there are other factors besides FGD size which can affect a grammar,
Hawkins’ theory does not make specific predictions regarding which structures will be found
acceptable in a given language. However, our finding that there was a strong and equal
preference for gaps over RPs in both subject and direct object RCs is consistent with Hawkins’
observations regarding the equivalent FGD size of subject and object relatives in languages like
Chinese.
Our results, as it turned out, were also largely consistent with the experimental results
of Yuan and Zhao (2005), Su (2004), and Ning (2008), Ning et al. (2014), and Francis et al.
(2015).17 Yuan and Zhao (2005) designed an acceptability judgment task in Mandarin Chinese in
order to determine the distribution of gaps and RPs in Mandarin Chinese, as a control condition
in a study on L2 acquisition of Mandarin. The results for their native speaker group show that
RPs were rated as significantly less acceptable than gaps for both subject RCs and direct object
RCs, while subject and direct object RCs did not differ from each other. Further, their results
showed that that RPs and gaps were equally acceptable in RCs with relativized indirect objects,
although participants generally rated indirect object RCs lower than gapped subject and object
RCs. Similarly, in an acceptability judgment task, Ning (2008) found that her participants
consistently rated subject RCs and object RCs alike: gapped clauses were consistently preferred
over clauses with RPs to the same degree for both subject and object RCs. Likewise, Su’s (2004)
17 Some of these studies may be rather obscure to researchers of Chinese linguistics because
they are primarily focused on language acquisition (Yuan and Zhao 2005; Su 2004) or sentence
processing (Ning 2008) rather than grammar or syntax. In addition, Ning’s (2008) study is an
unpublished master’s thesis, and Su’s (2004) study was from conference proceedings.
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 37
production data are in line with that of Yuan and Zhao (2005) and Ning (2008); in an elicitation
task administered to 31 adult native speakers of Mandarin (as a control condition in a study of
L1 acquisition of Mandarin), RCs with resumptives were never produced in subject and direct
object contexts. (Indirect object RCs were not tested.)
More recent studies of Mandarin RCs by Ning et al. (2014) and of Cantonese RCs by
Francis et al. (2015) support the claim that RPs aid in sentence processing at greater levels of
complexity, but not the claim that subject and direct object RCs are equal to one another in
complexity. Ning et al. (2014) performed an eye-tracking study on 16 participants who read
sentences containing subject, direct object, and indirect object RCs of varying lengths in RP and
gapped conditions. The researchers found that RPs did not facilitate language processing in
subject RCs, or in short direct object RCs, but that they did facilitate language processing in
direct object RCs which were lengthened by adding an adverbial before the head noun. For
indirect object RCs, there was no difference between the RP and gapped conditions. Their
overall conclusion is similar to ours: that RPs in gap-filler constructions can facilitate processing
of more complex dependencies. Francis et al. (2015) asked 22 native speakers of Cantonese to
complete AJTs and production tasks, and found that RPs were more acceptable and were
produced more often as the structural complexity of the RCs in these tasks increased, a finding
that they believe supports Hawkins’ (2004) Performance-Grammar Correspondence Hypothesis.
Contrary to the results of AJT 2, however, they found that RPs were more acceptable and were
produced more often in direct object RCs as compared with subject RCs.
The data from Francis et al. (2015) and Ning et al. (2014), while compelling, do not
disprove Hawkins’ claim that Mandarin subject and direct object RCs are equal to one another
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 38
in one measure of complexity. Ning et al. (2014) did not measure acceptability or production,
but instead used eye-tracking to assess subtle effects in reading comprehension. It is likely that
their eye-tracking measures were sensitive to some aspect of online processing that
acceptability judgements (Ning 2008; Yuan and Zhao 2005), reading time (Ning 2008), and
production measures (Su 2004) were not. Furthermore, the subject-object asymmetry that they
found was only present in one condition-- the long-RC condition. The results for Cantonese
from Francis et al. (2015) present a more serious challenge to Hawkins’ proposal. Cantonese is
closely related to Mandarin and shares the same word order typology. Therefore, Hawkins
(2004) predicts no subject-object asymmetry in RP use. However, Hawkins himself
acknowledges that other factors besides FGD size may affect processing complexity, and that
even the same complexity factors may be grammaticalized differently in different languages.
Francis et al. (2015: 76) note that the subject-object asymmetry that they found is consistent
with a frequency-based effect, since subject RCs are more common than object RCs in corpora
of Mandarin (Hsiao and MacDonald 2013). We can therefore speculate that different
dimensions of RC complexity may affect RP distributions in Mandarin vs. Cantonese.
In summary, the experimental findings of three studies of Mandarin RPs (Ning 2008; Su
2004; Yuan and Zhao 2005), which deviated from the scholarly consensus in Chinese linguistics
and which did not figure in Hitz’s (2012) original hypotheses, turn out to align closely with the
findings reported above in experiment 2. Notably, all of these studies relied on experimental
data, whereas the scholarly consensus in Chinese linguistics is mostly based on studies that
used informally collected judgments. The current results, in combination with those of other
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 39
experimental studies, cast doubt on previous syntactic analyses (e.g. Hu and Liu 2007) while
supporting the predictions of Hawkins’ (2004) FGD complexity ranking.
4. Acceptability judgment task 3: Turkish
4.1 Hypotheses
AJT 3 was designed in order to determine the distribution of RPs in Turkish RCs. The
large body of literature on Turkish RCs has generally argued that they do not allow RPs in RCs
with relativized subjects, direct objects, indirect objects, and oblique objects (Keenan and
Comrie, 1977, Tezel 1998, Lewis, 2000, Kornfilt, 2000, Cağri, 2005). Moreover, Kornfilt (2000)
has argued that a syntactic constraint, the A’-Disjointness requirement,18 prevents the
occurrence of RPs in Turkish RCs. This view was the basis for the experimental hypotheses in
the current study: we predicted that gapped clauses would be highly acceptable across all
conditions, while clauses with RPs would be unacceptable across all conditions, similar to the
predictions for English in AJT 1.
The consensus view described above has been challenged. Meral (2004) argues that
resumptive pronouns may alternate "freely" with gaps in Turkish RCs with relativized subjects,
direct objects, indirect objects, and oblique objects, and are mandatory in some RCs with
relativized objects of postpositions. Meral (2004) states that resumptive pronouns are
18 For more information on this constraint, see McCloskey (1990), Ouhalla (1993), and Kornfilt
(2000).
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 40
acceptable in all Turkish RC types. Differing slightly from Meral, Göksel and Kerslake (2004)
state that RPs are acceptable in all non-subject RCs. The results from Experiment 3 support
Göksel and Kerslake (2004).
4.2 Methodology
4.2.1 Design
Similar to Chinese, Turkish NPs are head-final and therefore relative clauses come
before the nouns they modify and fillers come before gaps. Unlike Chinese, however, the basic
clause order is SOV. Turkish relative clauses take two forms. In the first type, the subject is
relativized and an en suffix is added to the verb; in the second, the direct, indirect, or oblique
object is relativized and the -dik suffix is added to the verb. These RC types are illustrated in (5)
and (6) below. Turkish is a pro-drop language, so overt subjects appear in RCs in which the
object is relativized only for pragmatic reasons (Cağri, 2005).
(5) ben-i gör-en kişi-ler
I-ACC see-AN person-PL
"The people who saw me"
(adapted from Kornfilt, 2000, p. 123)
(6) Hasan'ın tanı- dığ- ı ada
Hasan-GEN know-DIK-1SG island
"The island that Hasan knows."
(Kornfilt, 2000, p. 126)
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 41
The structure for Turkish closely resembles that for Chinese, as shown in the Hawkins-style tree
diagram below (Figure 5). However, because Turkish is consistently head-final in both the NP
and the VP (with the subcategorizing verb adjacent to the head noun), FGDs for subject RCs are
shorter than for object RCs (Hawkins 2004: 180). In this respect, Turkish resembles English but
differs from Chinese. In a simple transitive clause, subject RCs have an FGD of 6 while direct
object RCs have an FGD of 8. Indirect object RCs in a ditransitive clause have an FGD of 10, and
so do oblique object RCs. The direct object RC from sentence (6) is illustrated in the following
figure.
NPi
S
Ni
NP
VP
island
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 42
Figure 5. Tree Diagram of a Turkish RC
In experiment 3, one factor, RC Type, had three levels: subject RC, direct object RC, and RC with
a relativized indirect object/relativized oblique object,19 while the other factor, Pronoun
(Presence/Absence of RP), had two levels. A sample token set is given in Table 4.
Table 4. Sample Token Set for Acceptability Judgment Task 3: Turkish
Subject RC with Resumptive Pronoun
[S Kendisii biz-i öv-en] adami çok sevilen bir kişi-dir
he-NOM. 1.PL-ACC. praise-SR20 man very loved one person-PRED
19 Comrie (1989), one of the developers of the NPAH, puts indirect object RCs and RCs with
relativized oblique objects at the same level of his NPAH taxonomy. Similar to Comrie, Hawkins
(1999, p. 253, footnote 8) states that the filler-gap domains in indirect object RCs and oblique
object RCs are identical to one another. Following the precedents set by Comrie (1989) and
Hawkins (2004), we placed indirect object RCs and oblique object RCs in one category for
analysis. In the Turkish AJT, the oblique object RCs contained relativized nouns in ablative case,
indicated by the morpheme den.
20 Turkish subject RCs use a special bound morpheme, -an, to indicate the presence of a subject
RC. Because Turkish employs vowel harmony, the vowel in the morpheme changes to
N
V
Ni
NP
Hasan
knows
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 43
“The man who he praises us is a much-loved individual.”
Subject RC with Gap
[S___i biz-i öv-en] adami çok sevilen bir kişi-dir
1.PL-ACC. praise-NSR man very loved one person-PRED
“The man who praises us is a much-loved individual.”
Direct Object RC with Resumptive Pronoun
[S pro Kendisi-nii öv- düğ- ümüz] adami çok sevilen bir kişi-dir
pro he-ACC. praise- NSR21-1.PL man very loved one person-PRED
"The man who we praised him is a much-loved individual."
Direct Object RC with Gap
[S pro ___i öv- düğ- ümüz] adami çok sevilen bir kişi-dir
pro praise- NSR-1.PL man very loved one person-PRED
"The man who we praised is a much-loved individual."
Indirect Object RC/ Oblique Object RC with Resumptive Pronoun
[S pro Kendisi-nei iltifat et-tiğ-imiz ] adami çok sevilen bir kişi-dir
pro he-DAT compliment do-NSR-1.PL man very loved one person-PRED
The man who we gave compliments to him is a much-loved individual.”
harmonize with vowels in preceding syllables. This morpheme is glossed as SR (subject relative
clause).
21 The morpheme -d
k is used to signal the presence of a non-subject RC. Due to vowel
harmony, the vowel in the morpheme may change. This morpheme is glossed as NSR (non-
subject relative clause).
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 44
Indirect Object RC/ Oblique Object RC with Gap
[S pro ___i iltifat et-tiğ-imiz ] adami çok sevilen bir kişi-dir
pro ___ compliment do-NSR-1.PL man very loved one person-PRED
The man who we gave compliments to is a much-loved individual.”
The instrument contained 4 token sets consisting of 24 experimental items in addition
to 24 fillers for a total of 48 items altogether. The items were randomized according to
procedures described by Cowart (1997) and distributed to participants in two different
questionnaire forms in which items were ordered differently from one another.
4.2.2 Participants
AJT 3 was administered to a total of 16 native speakers of Turkish who were recruited
from the student body at Purdue University in 2010. As the majority were graduate students,
the average age was 32 years old; 8 were males, and 8 were females. None had training in
linguistics. Nine participants in this study had previously participated in the English-language
AJT.
4.2.3 Experimental procedures and statistical tests used to analyze the data
These were identical to the ones listed for AJT 2.
4.3 Results and discussion
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 45
Results from the mixed model statistical test show highly significant main effects for RC
Type, Pronoun, and for their interaction.22
Pairwise TALMS test comparisons showed that one condition was primarily responsible
for all statistically significant differences between individual types of items. Subject RCs with
RPs were rated significantly lower than all other conditions, including direct object RCs with RPs
(t= 4.780, p=.001) and indirect/oblique object RCs with RPs (t=5.650, p< .001). All other
pairwise TALMS test comparisons that did not involve subject RCs in the RP condition were not
statistically significant.
This difference between subject relatives with RPs and all other sentence types can be
seen clearly in Figure 6. 23
22 Table 2 in Appendix C lists the exact statistics elicited by the Mixed Model Procedure.
23 It should be noted that for the indirect/oblique object condition in Table 7, two token sets
contained items with relativized indirect objects, and two token sets contained items with
relativized oblique objects. Participants gave an average rating of 3.875 to gapped items with
relativized indirect objects, and an average rating of 3.53 to items with RPs in relativized
indirect object RCs. They gave an average rating of 3.46 to gapped items with relativized
oblique objects, and an average rating of 3.13 to items with RPs in RCs with relativized oblique
objects.
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 46
Figure 6. Mean Ratings of Turkish RCs24
These results differed from our original predictions. Although gapped RCs were rated
highly in all conditions as expected, RPs were also found to be acceptable in both direct object
RCs (average rating 3.109) and in RCs with relativized indirect objects and in oblique object RCs
(3.328), contrary to the claims made by Keenan and Comrie (1977), Tezel (1998), Kornfilt
(2000), and Cağri (2005) that RPs are unacceptable in normal Turkish RCs. It should be recalled
that in the non-subject conditions, RCs with RPs did not differ from gapped RCs at statistically
24 The error bars indicate the standard error of the mean. Exact values of each data point and
the standard deviations can be seen in Appendix C, Table 1.
1
1.5
2
2.5
3
3.5
4
Subject Direct Object IO/ Obl
Mean Rating
RC Type
Gapped Condition
RP Condition
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 47
significant levels, despite the apparent slight differences shown in Figure 6. These results
therefore cast doubt on formal syntactic proposals such as Kornfilt’s (2000) formulation of the
A’-Disjointness requirementa constraint on the binding of pronouns by antecedents in A’
positions. Kornfilt (2000) formulates this constraint for Turkish in such a way as to prevent RPs
in all positions within the highest clause (i.e., subject, direct object, indirect object, oblique
object). The current results suggest that RPs are more likely banned from highest subject
position only, similar to Irish (McCloskey 1990) and Hebrew (Borer 1984).
Although failing to support Kornfilt’s (2000) analysis, the current data are consistent
with Hawkins’ (2004) FGD complexity ranking, which predicts a greater likelihood of acceptable
RPs in non-subject as compared with subject positions. Furthermore, Turkish RCs with
relativized direct, indirect, and oblique objects are more complex from a morphological
perspective than Turkish subject RCs, in addition to having larger FGDs as per Hawkins’
complexity metric. For example, non-subject Turkish RCs must have a morpheme that indicates
agreement in number with the RC subject, and that is appended to the morpheme used to
mark a non-subject RC, -dik. In contrast, Turkish subject RCs contain no such agreement
morpheme. In other words, L1 Turkish speakers might find Turkish non-subject RCs more
difficult to process than subject RCs for two different reasons: a) the larger filler-gap domain in
non-subject RCs as compared with subject RCs, and b) the comparatively elaborate morphology
in non-subject RCs as compared with subject RCs. For more detailed information on these
issues, see Özge, Marinis, and Zeyrek (2010).
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 48
The results for the resumptive conditions were similar to those for Mandarin Chinese,
except that in Mandarin, direct object RCs with RPs patterned more similarly to subject RCs,
and the complexity effect for RPs (i.e. enhanced acceptability in more deeply embedded
positions) was only shown in the indirect object condition. Thus, the Turkish data, which
showed increased acceptability for non-subject RCs with RPs as compared with subject RCs with
RPs, patterned in much the way that we had originally hypothesized for Mandarin. The
Mandarin data itself patterned slightly differently than expected in that direct object RCs with
RPs were no more acceptable than subject RCs with RPs. Importantly, though, both Mandarin
and Turkish showed increased acceptability for RPs in some non-subject conditions, in contrast
to English, for which RPs were judged by the native speaker control group in AJT 1 as equally
unacceptable across all RC types. Of these three languages, only the English native speaker
results were as expected. We believe that these results from AJT 2 and AJT 3 might help
explain the otherwise puzzling results of AJT 1. The lack of any differences between L1 Turkish
and L1 Chinese groups as well as the slight but significant difference between subject and non-
subject conditions for both learner groups might be attributed to the fact that RPs are
apparently licensed in some non-subject positions in both Turkish and Mandarin. In other
words, the results of AJT 2 and AJT 3 tell us that L1 transfer cannot be ruled out as an
explanation for the results of AJT 1.
Overall, the results obtained from AJT 3 contrast with most published information about
the distribution of RPs and gaps in Turkish RCs, all of which appears to be based on informal
sentence judgments. More research needs to be done on the distribution of RPs in Turkish RCs,
and we believe that informal sentence judgments are not capable of clarifying this issue in
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 49
sufficient detail. Furthermore, support for the Hawkins’ FGD complexity ranking is illustrated
here by the increasing acceptability of RPs in subject, direct object, and indirect object/oblique
contexts.
5. Conclusion
In this section, we will review each experiment in light of the article’s goal of illustrating
the need for quantitative research in theory building, discuss the limitations of each
experiment, and describe avenues for further research.
5.1 Englishlanguage AJT 1: The cross-linguistic transfer of RPs
AJT 1 showed that formal sentence judgment tasks are needed to portray any possible
gradient effects. The gradient effect shown in the non-native speakers’ judgments of RCs in the
RP condition could not be elucidated by informal sentence judgments.
More generally, AJT 1 showed that SLA researchers interested in researching language
transfer need to base their L1-related hypotheses on experimental data. Currently, many SLA
researchers still base their L1-related hypotheses on informal sentence judgments (Jarvis and
Pavlenko 2008: 49), and this situation needs to change.
The motivation for the gradient data is consistent with Hawkins’ FGD complexity
ranking. Non-native speakers may have found RPs to be more acceptable in non-subject RCs as
compared with subject RCs due to the greater processing complexity of non-subject RCs.
However, the results of AJT 2 and 3 show that an L1 transfer account, or an account that
combines processing complexity and L1 transfer, cannot be ruled out.
We encourage future SLA researchers interested in language transfer of RPs to base
their transfer-related hypotheses on experimental data for the L1 (instead of only testing L2
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 50
performance), to use a larger variety of token sets in a Latin Square design, and to include more
complex RCs with deeper levels of embedding. If we had included more items like these, the
very slight gradient effect likely would have become more apparent.25 Finally, we have only
data obtained from receptive tasks. These need to be supplemented with productive tasks as
well.
5.2 AJT 2: The distribution of gaps and RPs in Mandarin Chinese
AJT 2 showed that the actual distribution of gaps and RPs in Mandarin Chinese RCs as
revealed by experimental data is quite different from the patterns shown by informal sentence
judgment tasks. Thus, our own results, in combination with the experimental results of other
researchers (Ning 2008; Yuan and Zhao 2005), cast doubt on previous formal syntactic analyses
which assumed that RPs are banned from subject RCs but optional in direct object RCs (e.g. Hu
and Liu 2007). On the positive side, our results concur with the FGD complexity ranking of
Hawkins (2004), and in particular the prediction that RP distributions should be the same in
subject and direct object RCs for languages like Mandarin. The precise formulation of
constraints on RP distributions in Chinese RCs is quite controversial as shown in the discussion
of AJT 2, and more experimental research is clearly needed.
AJT 2 shows another motivation for formal sentence judgments: a gradient data pattern,
which informal sentence judgments cannot adequately reveal, but which syntactic analyses of
RP distributions ought to take into account. As with the English RCs in AJT 1, RPs gain in
25 We are indebted to two anonymous reviewers for pointing out these shortcomings.
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 51
acceptability as the filler-gap domain expands, a finding that supports the FGD complexity
ranking of Hawkins (2004).
The limitations of AJT 2 are similar to AJT 1. The gradient pattern could have been more
pronounced if the experiment had included additional conditions with more complexity and
embedding. Also, the small number of token sets and the lack of a Latin Square Design do limit
our ability to generalize these findings, but, as we have stated earlier, the validity of the results
may be strengthened by their consistency with those of other experiments. More production
data on the distribution of RPs in Mandarin across a wider range of RC types of varying levels of
complexity is needed.
5.3 AJT 3: The distribution of gaps and RPs in Turkish
AJT 3 showed that our experimental data were at odds with all informal judgments
regarding the distribution of gaps and RPs in Turkish RCs except for those of Göksel and
Kerslake (2004), and therefore call into question formal syntactic analyses proposed by Kornfilt
(2000). The results are, however, again consistent with Hawkins’ FGD complexity metric, as RPs
in non-subject positions are more acceptable than in subject positions. As far as we are aware,
ours is the first and only experimental study to address these issues. As such, it remains unclear
as to what extent RPs are grammaticalized in Turkish and under what conditions they are used.
In addition, it is not known which type of RC complexity (FGD size, morphological complexity, or
some combination) might be affecting participants’ judgments. Further experimental research
is needed to answer these questions.
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 52
As with AJTs 1 and 2, AJT 3 could have benefitted from a larger number of token sets.
Also, it is possible that subject RCs in the RP condition could have become more acceptable if
more postpositional or adverbial phrases intervened between the RP and the head noun:
compared to the other subject RCs in the RP condition in AJTs 1 and 2, participants rated them
fairly high (1.906), and some participants found them to be consistently acceptable.
It can be seen that the experimental results of AJTs 1, 2, and 3 have important
limitations and raise more questions than they resolve in regards to only one small area of
syntactic research: resumptive pronouns. However, at least three things are clear: (1) syntactic
analyses of RPs in Mandarin (e.g. Hu and Liu 2007) and Turkish (e.g., Kornfilt 2000) may need to
be revised such that the relevant syntactic constraints are more restrictive for Mandarin
(treating direct object RCs on par with subject RCs) but less restrictive for Turkish (allowing RPs
in non-subject positions); (2) acceptability judgments correlated with RC complexity for L2
English speakers and for L1 Mandarin and Turkish speakers, consistent with Hawkins’ FGD
complexity ranking, thus providing some support for his PGCH; and (3) informally-collected
sentence judgments provide little hope of establishing reliable data on RP distributions or of
revealing subtle, gradient distinctions. Thus, following Gibson and Fedorenko (2013), we
endorse the continued use of formal sentence judgment tasks or other quantitative measures
in both theoretical syntax research, which relies on particular contrasts in acceptability to form
complex chains of reasoning, and in second-language research, which relies on particular
contrasts in acceptability to form hypotheses about language transfer.
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 53
Acknowledgments
We would like to acknowledge the extremely helpful contributions of Dr. April Ginther,
the Co-Chair of John Hitz’s Ph.D. dissertation committee, who provided valuable guidance
regarding logical argumentation, organization of ideas, research design, and statistical analyses.
We would like to thank another member of the dissertation committee, Dr. John Sundquist, for
giving many detailed and helpful comments throughout, and respectfully recognize the
contributions of Dr. Linda Bergmann, a dissertation committee member whose feedback
enabled us to explain our arguments in the clearest possible way.
We are very grateful to the Purdue Statistics Department, and especially to Faye Zheng,
our research consultant, who helped us choose the appropriate statistical model.
We offer our sincere thanks to Dr. Charles Lam and Dr. Lixia Cheng, who helped
enormously with the design of the Mandarin AJT, and to Dr. Xin Li, who helped us to evaluate
and critique the individual items.
We express our sincere gratitude to Evrim Eser Hitz, Nevin Eser, and Ayşe Eser for their
assistance with the word choices and experimental items in the Turkish AJT.
We would like to thank the anonymous reviewers who provided some incisive, detailed,
and useful comments about an earlier draft of this article that was submitted to another
journal.
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 54
And, finally, we are very grateful to the anonymous reviewers and editorial staff of
Linguistics. We really appreciate their detailed comments on the first submission of this article,
and their patience with our work.
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 55
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John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 62
Appendix A
The means of the ratings assigned to the items in the various experimental conditions in
AJT 1, as well as the standard deviations between them, are illustrated in Table 1.
Table 1. Mean Ratings of Experimental Items
Mandarin
Gaps
Turkish
Gaps
English
Gaps
Mandarin
RP
Turkish
RP
English
RP
Subject
3.58
SD=.35
3.76
SD=.306
3.74
SD=.41
1.27
SD=.44
1.19
SD=.37
1.13
SD=.23
Direct
Object
3.22
SD=.59
3.28
SD=.875
3.53
SD=.61
1.58
SD=.74
1.59
SD=.73
1.11
SD=.24
Prep.
Object
3.51
SD=.52
3.02
SD=.978
3.53
SD=.75
1.60
SD=.697
1.52
SD=.68
1.17
SD=.35
The main effects and interactions of various factors that might have affected
participants’ performance in AJT 1 are depicted in Table 2.
Table 1. Influence of Various Factors on AJT 1
Effect
Numerator
DF
Denominator
DF
F Value
Pr > F
language
2
198
0.68
0.5053
Type
2
393
1.69
0.1852
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 63
Effect
Numerator
DF
Denominator
DF
F Value
Pr > F
language*type
4
393
5.28
0.0004
pronoun
1
198
923.63
<.0001
type*pronoun
2
393
37.04
<.0001
language*pronoun
2
198
6.20
0.0024
language*type*
pronoun
4
393
6.03
0.0001
The mixed-model statistical procedure showed a significant main effect for one of the
fixed factors, Pronoun (F(1, 198), F =923.63, p <.001). The significant main effect of Pronoun
indicates that, as expected, gapped RCs were rated much higher than resumptive RCs across all
language groups and all RC types.
The lack of any main effect for Language (F (2, 198) =.680, p=.505) and RC Type (F (2,
393) =1.68, p=.185) is the result of variation across participant groups and clause types among
the different experimental conditions. However, this variation was found to be systematic, as
indicated by the significant interactions between Language and RC Type (F (4, 393) =5.280,
p=.0004), Language and Pronoun (F (2, 98)=6.202, p= .002), RC Type and Pronoun (F(4, 393)
=37.040, p <.001), and between Language, RC Type, and Pronoun (F(4, 393) =6.030, p <.001).
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 64
The most interesting of these is the significant three-way interaction between Language (L1
background), RC Type, and Pronoun (Presence/Absence of RP).
We conducted several pairwise comparisons using Tukey-Adjusted Least Mean Squares
tests (hereafter, TALMS tests) to check for significant differences in the ratings between L1
groups. Contrary to our expectation for L1 transfer effects, there were no statistically
significant differences between the two groups of non-native speakers in regards to their
judgments of direct object RCs with RPs (t= -.030, p=1.000), and in regards to their judgments of
RCs with relativized objects of prepositions and RPs (t= 1.070, p=.999). Likewise, the L1
Chinese speakers did not differ at statistically significant levels from the native English speakers
in terms of their judgments of similar items on the questionnaire, and the L1 Turkish speakers
differed at statistically significant levels from the L1 English speakers on only one condition:
gapped RCs with stranded prepositions (t=3.520, p= .049).1 These data appear to show that the
non-native English speakers were so advanced in their L2 RC acquisition that their acceptability
judgments for sentences with RPs closely resembled those of native speakers.
1 For a detailed explanation of this finding, see Hitz (2012: 152-165). Because Chinese has
prepositions and SVO word order, just as English does, L1 Chinese speakers may have an
advantage over L1 Turkish speakers in the acquisition of English RCs with stranded prepositions.
In contrast to English and Chinese, Turkish allows postpositions only and is characterized by a
canonical SOV word order.
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 65
Appendix B
The means of the ratings assigned to the items in the various experimental conditions in
AJT 1, as well as the standard deviations between them, are illustrated in Table 1.
Table 1. Mean Ratings of Experimental Items
Subject
Direct
Object
Indirect
Object
Gapped
Condition
3.948
SD=.337
3.906
SD=.482
2.697
SD=1.300
RP
Condition
1.385
SD=.910
1.635
SD=1.076
2.36
SD=1.265
The main effects and interactions elicited by the Mixed Model procedure can be seen in
Table 2.
Table 2. Main Effects and Interactions: L1 Mandarin Survey
Effect
Numerator
DF
Denominator
DF
F Value
Pr > F
Type
2
62
2.16
0.1244
pronoun
1
31
332.37
<.0001
pronoun*type
2
62
54.83
<.0001
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 66
Appendix C
The means of the ratings assigned to the items in the various experimental conditions
AJT 3, as well as the standard deviations between them, are illustrated in Table 1.
Table 1. Mean Ratings of Experimental Items
Subject
Direct
Object
Indirect /
Oblique
Object
Gapped
Condition
3.984
SD=.422
3.81
SD=.370
3.67
SD=.425
RP
Condition
1.906
SD=.1.060
3.10
SD=.921
3.32
SD=.751
The main effects and interactions elicited by the Mixed Model procedure can be seen in
Table 2.
Table 2. Main Effects and Interactions: L1 Turkish Survey
Effect
Num
DF
Den DF
F Value
Pr > F
Type
2
30
8.76
0.0003
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 67
Pronoun
1
15
44.4
<.0001
Type*
Pronoun
2
30
9.89
0.0001
John Hitz and Elaine J. Francis 68
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