The current project aims to investigate how the at-issue status of clauses impacts the processing of these clauses, as well as subsequent discourse. To test this, we designed two experiments, each investigating this for a different type of main clause-subordinate clause construction:
Experiment 1 Sentences containing an adverbial clause that starts with 'after' Experiment 2 Relative clause constructions: subject- and object-modifying
Experiment 1 is a self-paced reading experiment which will be conducted on sentences containing adverbial clauses. In these sentences, the adverbial clause is not expected to be at-issue, and the main clause is. We will also test how content that follows these sentences is processed differently based on whether it is coreferential with the at-issue content (main clause) or the not-at-issue content (adverbial clause).
For example, the reading times of below bracketed clauses will be compared: (1a) [subordinate clause, low at-issue potential] After [they had dinner at a French bistro,] they went to a violin concert. (1b) [main clause, high at-issue potential] After they went to a violin concert, [they had dinner at French bistro.]
In the sentence that follows these, the bracketed clause content will be coreferential with either the subordinate clause content (1a), or the main clause content (1b):
(2) It was [a very small cozy restaurant.]
In experiment 2, we want to find out how clauses that are ambiguous with respect to their at-issue status, object-modifying relative clauses, are processed differently compared to clauses that have a clear at-issue status, subject-modifying relative clauses (not-at-issue) and the main clauses that embed these (at-issue). Furthermore, we aim to investigate how content that follows above-mentioned relative clause constructions is processed differently based on whether its content is coreferential with at-issue content, not-at-issue content, or content that is ambiguous with respect to its at-issue status.
For example, the reading times of below bracketed clauses will be compared: (3a) [subject-modifying relative clause, low at-issue potential] My dad, who [was having a snack of chips and dip,] opened a bottle of wine for my uncle. (3b) [object-modifying relative clause, medium at-issue potential] My dad opened a bottle of wine for my uncle, who [was having a snack of chips and dip.] (3c) [main clause that embeds a subject-modifying relative clause, high at-issue potential] My dad, who opened a bottle of wine for my uncle, [was having a snack of chips and dip.]
In the sentence that follows these, the bracketed clause content will be coreferential with either the subject-modifying relative clause content (3a), the object-modifying relative clause content (3b), or the main clause content (3c):