Chiara Finocchiaro

The Syntagmatic Congruency Effect: Evidence from Clitic Production in Italian

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Sentences are made up by words that may or may not entertain an agreement relation among each other. Research in the field has been concentrating on the case of agreement. In this study, the issue of the selection of multiple features was addressed. Participants were asked to mark different number feature values (i.e., values that need not to agree) on two elements: a verb, that had to agree with the subject NP, and a direct object pronoun. Results form three Experiments showed that the selection of a given number value for one element is affected by the value of the other element in the sentence, provided that the same feature is "active" for both elements. We interpreted the results as showing that (a) the mechanism of feature encoding considers contextual information independently of the grammatical class or the syntactic function of the elements carrying the number feature; (b) contextual influences on number marking may arise at the level where feature values are ordered within a production frame.


  • clitics
  • syntagmatic congruency effect
  • frame construction
  • syntactic function
  • grammatical class
  • active and inert values


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