The preservation of structure in language comprehension: Is reanalysis the last resort?

P Sturt, M J Pickering, C Scheepers, M W Crocker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

During language comprehension, people sometimes have to revise their grammatical analysis of a sentence. Experimental evidence demonstrates that such reanalysis often causes processing difficulty. We might therefore predict that reanalysis would he disfavored, with the processor preferring nor to reanalyze when it had a choice. Three experiments on complement-clause ambiguities investigate the conditions under which the processor chooses to reanalyze, We contrast two extreme positions, one where the processor avoids reanalysis whenever possible, the other where reanalysis is not disfavored at all. We also consider intermediate positions, in which the preference to maintain the current analysis is one factor that affects ambiguity resolution. The experiments demonstrate that the processor avoids reanalysis even when other factors would support it. (C) 2001 Academic Press.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-307
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Volume45
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2001

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • sentence processing
  • ambiguity resolution
  • reanalysis
  • recency
  • SYNTACTIC AMBIGUITY RESOLUTION
  • SENTENCE COMPREHENSION
  • LATE CLOSURE
  • SAUSAGE MACHINE
  • EYE-MOVEMENTS
  • GARDEN-PATHS
  • VERB
  • ATTACHMENT
  • CONTEXT
  • PLAUSIBILITY

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