Relative clause processing in Mandarin: Evidence from the maze task

Xiaomei Qiao*, Liyao Shen, Kenneth Forster

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Contradictory results have been found in Chinese as to whether subject relative clauses are easier to process than object relative clauses. One major disagreement concerns the region where the difficulty arises. In this study. "maze" task was used to localise processing difficulty by requiring participants to mak. choice between two alternatives at every single position of the sentence. The results confirmed that object relatives are indeed easier than corresponding subject relatives in the relative clause region, although this difference is reversed in the subsequent relative marker region. No difference was found in the head noun position. It is argued that these results ar. function of the fact that the task forces participants to adop. strict incremental processing mode, whereas self-paced reading allows more freedom. Implications for experimental techniques for studying sentence processing are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)611-630
Number of pages20
JournalLanguage and Cognitive Processes
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Chinese
  • Maze task
  • Relative clauses
  • Sentence processing


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