This book examines one of the allegedly unique features of human
language: structure sensitivity. Its point of departure is the
distinction between content and structural units, which are defined
in psycholinguistic terms. The focus of the book is on structural
representations, in particular their hierarchicalness and their
branching direction. Structural representations reach variable
levels of activation and are therefore gradient in nature. Their
variable strength is claimed to account for numerous effects
including differences between individual analytical levels,
differences between languages as well as pathways of language
acquisition and breakdown. English is found to be consistent in its
branching direction and to have evolved its branching direction in
line with the cross-level harmony constraint. Structure sensitivity
is argued to be highly variable both within and across languages
and consequently an unlikely candidate for a defining property of
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