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An Asymmetry in the Acquisition of Tagalog Relative Clauses

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Item Summary

Title:An Asymmetry in the Acquisition of Tagalog Relative Clauses
Authors:Tanaka, Nozomi
relative clauses
subject advantage
subject-object asymmetry
Date Issued:May 2016
Publisher:[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2016]
Abstract:The putative subject advantage in relative clauses (RCs) found in many languages is manifested in faster reading and reaction times, higher accuracy in production, and earlier acquisition of sentences involving RCs in which the agent has been relativized (e.g., ‘the boy that is hugging the girl,’ referred to henceforth as ARCs), compared to RCs in which the theme has been relativized (e.g., ‘the boy that the girl is hugging,’ henceforth TRCs).
This dissertation investigates whether an ARC advantage can be found in the comprehension and production of Tagalog RCs by adults and children. A relatively understudied language, Tagalog exhibits interesting properties with respect to RCs. The Tagalog focus system systematically brings to prominence one argument or another, and in declarative clauses, it has been found that theme arguments tend to be made prominent more than agent arguments. If this prominence holds within RCs, we predict a TRC advantage, contrary to the cross-linguistically observed ARC advantage. Four experiments were conducted to investigate the production of declarative clauses, the comprehension of RCs, the imitation of RCs, and the production of RCs. The findings from this dissertation point toward an ARC advantage in the comprehension, imitation, and production of Tagalog RCs. The results, combined with what has been found previously for other languages, suggest that semantic prominence is a key determinant for the relative difficulty of RCs, and that it can explain an ARC advantage manifested in different languages, including Tagalog.
Description:Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2016.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - Linguistics

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