Unpacking the blocking effect: Syntactic prominence and perspective-taking in antecedent retrieval in Mandarin Chinese

Jun Lyu, Elsi Kaiser
2021 Glossa  
In the linguistics literature, it is generally agreed that the non-local use of the bare reflexive ziji in Mandarin Chinese is sensitive to perspective centers. The introduction of a local first-person pronoun encoding the comprehender's perspective is assumed to make non-local binding unavailable, a phenomenon called the blocking effect. We conducted two sets of offline and online experiments that examine the blocking effect associated with ziji, to better understand whether and how it is
more » ... ted by the syntactic status of the blocking pronoun (subject vs. object). By comparing the forced-choice judgment results in Experiments 1 and 2, we find that syntactically prominent subject blockers lead to stronger blocking compared to object blockers, and that the strength of the blocking effect can be modulated by verb semantics. Furthermore, only subject blockers caused blocking during incremental real-time processing; object blockers did not. These experimental results have implications for both the linguistic formulation of the blocking effect and for sentence processing models.
doi:10.16995/glossa.5781 fatcat:emcazwnizng5phwcb6v3v6wjwy