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ERIC Number: EJ1056699
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Mar
Pages: 15
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
The Manuscript That We Finished: Structural Separation Reduces the Cost of Complement Coercion
Lowder, Matthew W.; Gordon, Peter C.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v41 n2 p526-540 Mar 2015
Two eye-tracking experiments examined the effects of sentence structure on the processing of complement coercion, in which an event-selecting verb combines with a complement that represents an entity (e.g., "began the memo"). Previous work has demonstrated that these expressions impose a processing cost, which has been attributed to the need to type-shift the entity into an event in order for the sentence to be interpretable (e.g., "began writing the memo"). Both experiments showed that the magnitude of the coercion cost was reduced when the verb and complement appeared in separate clauses (e.g., "The memo that was begun by the secretary"; "What the secretary began was the memo") compared with when the constituents appeared together in the same clause. The moderating effect of sentence structure on coercion is similar to effects that have been reported for the processing of 2 other types of semantically complex expressions (inanimate subject-verb integration and metonymy). We propose that sentence structure influences the depth at which complex semantic relationships are computed. When the constituents that create the need for a complex semantic interpretation appear in a single clause, readers experience processing difficulty stemming from the need to detect or resolve the semantic mismatch. In contrast, the need to engage in additional processing is reduced when the expression is established across a clause boundary or other structure that deemphasizes the complex relationship.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) (NIH)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: North Carolina
Grant or Contract Numbers: R01 HD060440-06A2