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ERIC Number: EJ1008774
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Mar
Pages: 15
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 45
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
Situational Context Affects Definiteness Preferences: Accommodation of Presuppositions
Clifton, Charles, Jr.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v39 n2 p487-501 Mar 2013
In 4 experiments, we used self-paced reading and eye tracking to demonstrate that readers are, under some conditions, sensitive to the presuppositions of definite versus indefinite determiner phrases (DPs). Reading was faster when the context stereotypically provided a single possible referent for a definite DP or multiple possible referents for an indefinite DP than when context and DP definiteness were mismatched. This finding goes beyond previous evidence that definite DPs are processed more rapidly than are indefinite DPs when there is a unique or familiar referent in the context, showing that readers are sensitive to the semantics and pragmatics of (in)definiteness. However, the finding was obtained only when readers had to perform a simple arithmetic task between reading a sentence and seeing a question about it. The intervening task may have encouraged them to process the sentence more deeply in order to form a representation that would persist while doing the arithmetic. The methodological implications of this observation are discussed. (Contains 5 tables, 2 figures, and 3 footnotes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Massachusetts