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Preposition copying and pruning in present-day English



This article investigates the nature of preposition copying and preposition pruning structures in present-day English. We begin by illustrating the two phenomena and consider how they might be accounted for in syntactic terms, and go on to explore the possibility that preposition copying and pruning arise for processing reasons. We then report on two acceptability judgement experiments examining the extent to which native speakers of English are sensitive to these types of ‘error’ in language comprehension. Our results indicate that preposition copying creates redundancy rather than ungrammaticality, whereas preposition pruning creates processing problems for comprehenders that may render it unacceptable in timed (but not necessarily in untimed) judgement tasks. Our findings furthermore illustrate the usefulness of combining corpus studies and experimentally elicited data for gaining a clearer picture of usage and acceptability, and the potential benefits of examining syntactic phenomena from both a theoretical and a processing perspective.



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English Language & Linguistics
  • ISSN: 1360-6743
  • EISSN: 1469-4379
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