Late closure in context

Altmann, Gerry T M, van Nice, Kathy Y, Garnham, Alan and Henstra, Judith-Ann (1998) Late closure in context. Journal of Memory and Language, 38 (4). pp. 459-484. ISSN 0749596X

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The debate surrounding the use of extra-sentential context to inform early parsing decisions has focused primarily on the class of syntactic ambiguity to which Minimal Attachment (Frazier, 1979) applies. The present paper extends the debate to Late Closure (Frazier, 1979). We argue that Crain and Steedman's (1985) Principle of Parsimony predicts a specific circumstance in which referential context should override the tendency for late closure or right association (Kimball, 1973). The first of four eye-movement reading time studies failed to confirm the prediction. However, when similar materials were embedded in a context which explicitly directed attention toward the appropriate predicate (i.e., the predicate associated with the high attachment), we found evidence of contextual override. We argue that the data fit well with the constraint-satisfaction view of sentence processing (e.g., MacDonald, Pearlmutter, & Seidenberg, 1994; Trueswell & Tanenhaus, 1994), although we offer an augmentation of the account based on thepredictiveactivation of forthcoming structure (cf. Elman, 1990).

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Depositing User: Alan Garnham
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:38
Last Modified: 14 Mar 2012 14:00
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