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Authors: Shota Momma & Michael Wilson
Abstract: We examine the optionality of English *that* complementizers in
sentence production, and find that it is sensitive to non-local
environments. In particular, *that* is produced less often selectively when
the complementizer position is in the hierarchical movement path of a
or *wh*-adjunct (exp. 1), but not when it is merely in the linear movement path of a
*wh*-word (exp. 2), and that when a *wh*-word crosses multiple clause
boundaries, *that* production is most reduced in the most embedded clause
(exp. 3). Taken together, these results show that speakers encode and
maintain a detailed syntactic representation over time, such that they
distinguish between clauses where a *wh*-word originated and ones where
they did not.