The Relationship between Syntactic and Semantic Processes in Sentence Comprehension
Creators:Boland, Julie E.
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Publisher:Ohio State University. Department of Linguistics
Citation:Working Papers in Linguistics, no. 44 (1994), 70-91.
Two experiments investigate how lexically ambiguous input is handled by the sentence processing system and shed light on the relationship between syntactic and semantic processing. Sentence contexts containing ambiguous verbs (e.g., Which salad/baseball did Janet toss... probe-word: Bill) are used to investigate how subcategorization and thematic role information is used by the sentence processing system. The results are consistent with a model in which the syntactic processing system uses subcategorization information to compute all "legal" structures in parallel, without consideration of semantic information from the context. Meanwhile, the semantic processing system uses contextual information to pursue the single most likely semantic analysis. The resulting syntactic and semantic representations are checked against each other, and inconsistent analyses discarded.
Experiment 1 was completed at the University of Rochester as part of the author's doctoral dissertation and was supported by grant HD-27206 (to Michael Tanenhaus). Experiment 2 was conducted at the Ohio State University and was supported by a University Seed Grant.
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