Ambiguity resolution in sentence processing: Evidence against frequency-based accounts

M J Pickering, M J Traxler, M W Crocker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Three eye-tracking experiments investigated two frequency-based processing accounts: the serial lexical-guidance account, in which people adopt the analysis compatible with the most likely subcategorization of a verb; and the serial-likelihood account, in which people adopt the analysis that they would regard as the most likely analysis, given the information available at the point of ambiguity. The results demonstrate that neither of these accounts explains readers' performance. Instead people preferred to attach noun phrases as arguments of verbs even when such analyses were unlikely to be correct. We suggest that these results fit well with a model in which the processor initially favors informative analyses. (C) 2000 Academic Press.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-475
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Volume43
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2000

Keywords

  • parsing
  • frequency
  • eye-tracking
  • syntax
  • ambiguity
  • garden path
  • GARDEN-PATH SENTENCES
  • EYE-MOVEMENTS
  • LANGUAGE COMPREHENSION
  • PROPOSAL MECHANISM
  • ARGUMENT STRUCTURE
  • LEXICAL AMBIGUITY
  • CONTEXT
  • ATTACHMENT
  • VERB
  • CONSTRAINTS

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