Colorado Research in Linguistics

Document Type

Working Paper


Subject-verb agreement is assumed to be the marking of the verb in an utterance as determined by properties of the subject. Psycholinguistic models of agreement in speech production differ as to whether they treat this phenomenon as driven primarily by syntactic processes or semantic influences. But these models are based primarily on research in Indo-European languages. This paper suggests that a useful approach to investigating the psycholinguistic mechanisms behind agreement in speech production is to extend the research to more typologically variant languages and more complex structures. Relative clause data from a Panoan language, Shipibo-Konibo, based on the work of Valenzuela (2002) is presented here as an ideal case study for psycholinguistic research on syntactic and semantic influences on subject-verb agreement. Shipibo-Konibo has a flexible word order, and a variety of relative clause types and relativization strategies that display subjects and verbs in various positional relationships. The data is presented in the context of two psycholinguistic models of agreement production: the Marking and Morphing model (Eberhard, Cutting & Bock 2005) and the Maximal Input model (Vigliocco & Hartsuiker 2002).



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