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Part of the obligatory subject-verb-agreement in German requires agreement in grammatical number. However, native speakers often struggle with sentences with complex subject phrases such as '[Beides, Plastiktüte und Sprühdose], schadet/schaden der Umwelt' (Both plastic bag and spray can damages/damage the environment). Even though, the singular verb is formally correct, native speakers often prefer the plural verb. This study investigates the phenomenon by combining online and offline measurements and discusses the findings in relation to current theories of parsing. Participants (n=20) were eye-tracked while listening to sentences referring to two objects (as above) and viewed pictures that showed these two plus a third object, which was not mentioned in the sentence. At the end of a trial, grammaticality judgements were collected (yes/no). There were three critical sentence types: (condition 1) Beides, (both) N1Sing und (and) N2 Sing V Sing ...; (condition 2) Beides, N1Sing und N2 Sing V Plur ...; (condition 3) Beides, N1Sing und N2 Plur V Plur ...; and a baseline (condition 4) Alle (all) N1Plur und N2 Plur V Plur ... . Grammaticality judgements were significantly lower in all critical conditions relative to the baseline. Condition 1 showed a significantly lower acceptability rate relative to condition 2 and 3, confirming the preference for a plural verb in the constructions under investigation. Fixation proportions from verb offset to sentence offset over time were similar in condition 1 and 2, exhibiting hardly any difference in attention allocation to N1 and N2 objects. However, fixation proportions patterns in conditions 1 and 2 differed strikingly from those in conditions 3 and 4, where participants directed much more (and for much longer) attention to N2. The ET results, therefore, suggest that the overt marking of N2 within the coordinative phrase, and possibly also its proximity to the verb, affect agreement processing. Our findings are in line with cue-based parsing theories (e.g., Wagers et al., 2009) and good-enough parsing accounts (e.g., Sanford & Graesser, 2006; Christianson, 2016). References: Christianson, Kiel (2016): When language comprehension goes wrong for the right reasons. Good-enough, underspecified, or shallow language processing. Quarterly journal of experimental psychology, 69 (5), pp. 817–828. Sanford, Anthony J.; Graesser, Arthur C. (2006): Shallow Processing and Underspecification. Discourse Processes, 42 (2), pp. 99–108. Wagers, Matthew W.; Lau, Ellen F.; Phillips, Colin (2009): Agreement attraction in comprehension. Representations and processes. Journal of Memory and Language, 61 (2), pp. 206–237.
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