Dutch L1 Parser Preferences and the Interpretation of English Ambiguous Sentences

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Adding a relative clause to a DP can sometimes lead to attachment ambiguities, when there are two possible attachment sites for the relative clause and thus two possible syntactic structures. An example of such an ambiguity is Someone shot the servant of the actress who was on the balcony, because either the servant or the actress was on the balcony. Each interpretation is associated with either high or low attachment, which denotes the site in a syntactic tree where the relative clause is attached to. Research has shown that high attachment is preferred in Dutch while low attachment is preferred in English. The purpose of this thesis is to examine what happens when Dutch L1 speakers are confronted with English sentences, and therefore the main research question it attempts to answer is: Do Dutch L2 speakers of English transfer their relative clause attachment preferences from their L1 when interpreting English ambiguous sentences? Forty-two participants whose first language is Dutch judged either Dutch or English ambiguous sentences by filling in a questionnaire with questions about their interpretation of the sentences. The results showed no significant differences in attachment choices between both language versions. Low attachment was preferred in both language versions.
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