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ERIC Number: EJ784548
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Mar
Pages: 52
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0010-0277
Expectation-Based Syntactic Comprehension
Levy, Roger
Cognition, v106 n3 p1126-1177 Mar 2008
This paper investigates the role of resource allocation as a source of processing difficulty in human sentence comprehension. The paper proposes a simple information-theoretic characterization of processing difficulty as the work incurred by resource reallocation during parallel, incremental, probabilistic disambiguation in sentence comprehension, and demonstrates its equivalence to the theory of Hale [Hale, J. (2001). A probabilistic Earley parser as a psycholinguistic model. In "Proceedings of NAACL" (Vol. 2, pp. 159-166)], in which the difficulty of a word is proportional to its "surprisal" (its negative log-probability) in the context within which it appears. This proposal subsumes and clarifies findings that high-constraint contexts can facilitate lexical processing, and connects these findings to well-known models of parallel constraint-based comprehension. In addition, the theory leads to a number of specific predictions about the role of expectation in syntactic comprehension, including the reversal of locality-based difficulty patterns in syntactically constrained contexts, and conditions under which increased ambiguity facilitates processing. The paper examines a range of established results bearing on these predictions, and shows that they are largely consistent with the surprisal theory.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A