Island effects in Spanish comprehension
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Description: A growing body of experimental syntactic research has revealed substantial variation in the magnitude of island effects, not only across languages but also across different grammatical constructions. Adopting a well-established experimental design, the present study examines island effects in Spanish using a speeded acceptability judgment task. To quantify variation across grammatical constructions, we tested extraction from four different types of structure (subjects, complex noun phrases, adjuncts and interrogative clauses). The results of Bayesian mixed effects modelling showed that the size of island effects varied between constructions, such that there was clear evidence of subject, adjunct and interrogative island effects, but not of complex noun phrase island effects. We also failed to find evidence that island effects were modulated by participants’ working memory capacity as measured by an operation span task. To account for our results, we suggest that variability in island effects across constructions may be due to the interaction of syntactic, semantic-pragmatic and processing factors, which may affect island types differentially due to their idiosyncratic properties.