Illusions of plausibility in adjuncts and co-ordination

Ian Cunnings*, Patrick Sturt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Illusions of grammaticality, where ungrammatical sentences are misperceived as grammatical (e.g. The key to the cabinets were rusty), have been widely studied during language comprehension. Such grammatical illusions have been influential in debate surrounding so-called representational and retrieval-based accounts of linguistic dependency resolution. Whether analogous illusions of plausibility occur at the level of semantic interpretation has only recently begun to be examined, and thus far, these illusions have been restricted to a narrow range of linguistic phenomena. In two eye-tracking during reading experiments (n = 48 in each) and two self-paced reading experiments (n = 192 in each) we examined the possibility of semantic illusions during the processing of adjuncts and co-ordination. Across experiments, our results suggest illusions of plausibility during dependency resolution, though interference effects were clearer in adjuncts than co-ordination. We argue that our findings are more compatible with retrieval-based rather than representational accounts of linguistic dependency resolution.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLanguage, Cognition and Neuroscience
Early online date22 Jul 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Jul 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • sentence processing
  • memory retrieval
  • linguistic dependencies
  • interference
  • reading


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