Reading sentences with a late closure ambiguity: does semantic information help?
AffiliationUniversity of Derby
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AbstractStowe (1989) reported that semantic information eliminates garden paths in sentences with the direct-object vs. subject ambiguity, such as Even before the police stopped the driver was very frightened. Three experiments are presented which addressed some methodological problems in Stowe's study. Experiment 1, using a word-by-word, self-paced reading task with grammaticality judgements, manipulated animacy of the first subject noun while controlling for the plausibility of the transitive action. The results suggest that initial sentence analysis is not guided by animacy. Experiment 2 and 3, using the self-paced task with grammaticality judgements and eye-tracking, varied the plausibility of the direct-object nouns to test revision effects. Plausibility was found to facilitate revision without fully eliminating garden paths, in line with various revision models. The findings support the view of a sentence processing system relying heavily on syntactic information, with semantic information playing a weaker role both in initial analysis and during revision, thus supporting serial, syntax-first models and ranked-parallel models relying on structural criteria.
CitationReading sentences with a late closure ambiguity: does semantic information help? 2002, 17 (3):271 Language and Cognitive Processes
JournalLanguage and Cognitive Processes