Case-marking in the parsing of complement sentences: Evidence from eye movements

M J Traxler, M J Pickering

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

An eye-tracking experiment investigated the role of case-marking in parsing. We manipulated the case of pronouns in reduced complement sentences like I recognized you and your family would be unhappy here and I recognized she and her family, would be unhappy here, in which the nominative pronoun she immediately disambiguates the sentences, in contrast to the ambiguous you. The nominative pronoun she disambiguates the sentence because I recognised she is ungrammatical, and thus she and her family must be the subject of an embedded sentence and not the NP-object of the preceding verb. Subjects took longer to read she and her family than you and your family during initial processing. The pattern reversed at the disambiguating phrase would be. Unambiguous control sentences containing the complementizer that did not produce case-marking effects. These results demonstrate very rapid effects of case-marking on parsing. Either case information is used immediately, or it is employed after an extremely short delay. We discuss implications for current theories of parsing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)991-1004
Number of pages14
JournalThe Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section A - Human Experimental Psychology
Volume49
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1996

Keywords

  • SYNTACTIC AMBIGUITY RESOLUTION
  • SEMANTIC INFLUENCES
  • ARGUMENT STRUCTURE
  • GARDEN PATH
  • CONTEXT
  • DISCOURSE
  • INFORMATION
  • VERB
  • ATTACHMENT

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