This chapter discusses how certain aspects of linguistic form specific to a language belonging to an understudied type of languages (ergative languages) yield processing results and acquisition patterns that have hitherto rarely been reported from studies of a well-studied type of languages (nominative languages). Specifically, it discusses recent results from studies on relative-clause processing in Basque that are incompatible with the widely held assumption that subject-object language processing asymmetries are universal, and that they tap into deep aspects of linguistic structure involving the core grammatical functions ‘subject-of’ and ‘object-of’. It is argued that the processing results obtained in Basque do not entail that the structural location of subjects and objects in ergative and nominative languages is different; rather they entail that morphological differences and input-initial choices have nontrivial consequences for processing.
Keywords: linguistic form; language acquisition; nominative languages; relative-clause processing; subject-object language processing
Chapter. 7488 words. Illustrated.
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