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ERIC Number: EJ915605
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Mar
Pages: 20
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0010-0277
Anticipating Explanations in Relative Clause Processing
Rohde, H.; Levy, R.; Kehler, A.
Cognition, v118 n3 p339-358 Mar 2011
We show that comprehenders' expectations about upcoming discourse coherence relations influence the resolution of local structural ambiguity. We employ cases in which two clauses share both a syntactic relationship and a discourse relationship, and hence in which syntactic and discourse processing might be expected to interact. An off-line sentence-completion study and an on-line self-paced reading study examined readers' expectations for high/low relative-clause attachments following implicit-causality and non-implicit causality verbs ("John detests/babysits the children of the musician who..."). In the off-line study, the widely reported low-attachment preference for English is observed in the non-implicit causality condition, but this preference gives way to more high attachments in the implicit-causality condition in cases in which (i) the verb's causally implicated referent occupies the high-attachment position and (ii) the relative clause provides an explanation for the event described by the matrix clause (e.g., "...who are arrogant and rude"). In the on-line study, a similar preference for high attachment emerges in the implicit-causality context--crucially, before the occurrence of any linguistic evidence that the RC does in fact provide an explanation--whereas the low-attachment preference is consistent elsewhere. These findings constitute the first demonstration that expectations about ensuing discourse coherence relationships can elicit full reversals in syntactic attachment preferences, and that these discourse-level expectations can affect on-line disambiguation as rapidly as lexical and morphosyntactic cues. (Contains 2 tables and 4 figures.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A