Philip Hofmeister

The Psycholinguistics of Island Effects

  • Teacher: Philip Hofmeister (University of Essex)
  • Theme: Islands
  • Slot: 10.45-12.45 (parallel session 2)


This course examines the extent to which processing limitations relate to the unacceptability of sentences with dependencies into so-called syntactic islands. Some empirical problems with previous structural accounts of island effects will be considered. The primary focus, however, will be upon the following:

    • psycholinguistic evidence for the processing difficulties associated with island effects,

    • the role of general cognitive limitations on the magnitude of island effects,

    • the architecture, assumptions, and predictions of processing-based accounts of island effects

Both theoretical and empirical challenges for processing-based accounts will also be laid out, and further attention will be devoted to the general question of how to interpret acceptability contrasts which may in principle have either functional or formal origins.