ERIC Number: ED179090
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1978-Dec
Reference Count: 0
A Semantic Constraint on Syntactic Parsing.
Crain, Stephen; Coker, Pamela L.
This research examines how semantic information influences syntactic parsing decisions during sentence processing. In the first experiment, subjects were presented lexical strings having syntactically identical surface structures but with two possible underlying structures: "The children taught by the Berlitz method," and "The teachers taught by the Berlitz method." Strings of the first type were processed as complex noun phrases, since the initial noun (children) was semantically more likely to be interpreted as the object of the following verb (taught). Strings of the second type were processed as complete sentences, following the canonical-sentoid strategy, since the initial noun (teachers) was a more likely subject of the verb. In a second experiment, strings of both types were followed by verb phrases: "The children taught by the Berlitz method passed the test," and "The teachers taught by the Berlitz method passed the test." Sentences like the first were parsed without difficulty as complete sentences. However, sentences like the second produced "garden path" effects. Since these results can be attributed to the semantic determination of subjects and objects, syntactic or "perceptual" strategies do not appear to be sufficient to account for the formulation of underlying syntactic structures. (Author)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Parsing; Semantic Interference Effect
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America (Boston, MA, December 28-30, 1978)