Clara Vanderschueren, Kevin Diependaele
May 2, 2013
This paper deals with the seemingly free competition between inflected and uninflected infinitives in Portuguese, a much-debated issue in Portuguese linguistics, which, however, has not been seriously empirically studied before. We specifically focus on Vesterinen's (2006, 2011) cognitive hypothesis according to which the inflected infinitive is used in cases in which the infinitival subject risks to be less cognitively accessible due to contextual reasons. We investigate this theory by analyzing both corpus and experimental (self-paced reading) data, making use of advanced linear modeling. We show that both types of analysis lead to complementary results: the inflected form primarily eases the processing of sentences with increased complexity. On the basis of these results, we argue that Vesterinen's accessibility account is but part of the solution for the inflected/non-inflected problem.