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Intervention by gaps in online sentence processing Michael Frazier, Peter Baumann, Lauren Ackerman, David Potter, Masaya Yoshida Northwestern University.

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Presentation on theme: "Intervention by gaps in online sentence processing Michael Frazier, Peter Baumann, Lauren Ackerman, David Potter, Masaya Yoshida Northwestern University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Intervention by gaps in online sentence processing Michael Frazier, Peter Baumann, Lauren Ackerman, David Potter, Masaya Yoshida Northwestern University Experiment Results Which antecedent parser chooses can be measured via gender-mismatch effects indexed by regression path time (Kreiner et al. 2008). (A) If parser represents gaps online: Should choose gap (linked to wh-phrase) as antecedent of reflexive in (2), leading to: Reading-time slowdown at or after reflexive when gender of wh-phrase does not match it. (B) If parser does not represent gaps online but instead considers all and only overt NPs Should chose (or at least consider) closest overt NP as antecedent of reflexive. Thus mismatch between gender of matrix subject and reflexive should yield reading time slowdown. Gender match/mismatch of linearly more distant wh-phrase impacts reading times after reflexive in embedded non-finite clause. Linearly closer matrix subject does not induce measurable gender-mismatch effect. Suggests that the structure that the parser builds includes phonetically empty ‘gaps' left by wh-movement. Eye-tracking sentence reading 36 native English speakers at Northwestern University 24 sentences interspersed with over 100 fillers OverviewPredictions Sample Stimuli: (2a) Which cowgirl did Anna expect to have injured herself due to negligence? accessible match, inaccessible match (2b) Which cowgirl did Anna expect to have injured himself due to negligence? accessible mismatch, inaccessible mismatch (2c) Which cowgirl did Steven expect to have injured herself due to negligence? accessible match, inaccessible mismatch (2d) Which cowgirl did Steven expect to have injured himself due to negligence? accessible mismatch, inaccessible match Conditions: 2 x 2 Design Local but grammatically inaccessible antecedent matches (a,d) vs. mismatches (b,c) gender of reflexive Non-local but grammatically accessible antecedent (wh-phrase) matches (a,c) vs. mismatches (b,d) gender of reflexive Conclusion The parser selects the linearly further wh-phrase as the antecedent of the reflexive Supports the prediction of the theory that assumes that the parser represents gaps online Future Directions Test with matrix wh-phrases to rule out general wh- resolution strategy Test generalness of the result with finite complement clauses rather than the infinitives used here References Aoshima, S., Phillips, C., & Weinberg, A. (2004). Processing filler-gap dependencies in a head-final language. Journal of Memory and Language, 51, Konieczny, Lars, Helmut Weldle, Sascha Wolfer, Daniel Müller, & Peter Baumann. (2010). Anaphora and Local Coherences. Proceedings of CogSci 32. Kreiner, H., Sturt, P., & Garrod, S. (2008). Processing definitional and stereotypical gender in reference resolution: Evidence from eye- movements. Journal of Memory and Language, 58(2), Pickering, Martin, and Guy Barry (1991). Sentence processing without empty categories. Language and Cognitive Processes 6.3: Sturt, P. (2003). The time-course of the application of binding constraints in reference resolution. Journal of Memory and Language, 48, Tabor, W., Galantucci, B., & Richardson, D. (2004). Effects of merely local syntactic coherence on sentence processing. Journal of Memory and Language, 50, Wagers, Matthew W, Ellen F Lau & Colin Phillips (2009). Agreement attraction in comprehension: Representations and processes. Journal of Memory and Language 61:2, 206–237. Discussion Spillover region after reflexive read significantly slower in Wh/Mismatch conditions than Wh/Match conditions (regression path: Main Effect of Potential- Antecedent: p<.05). In contrast, the subject NP (Anna/Steven in 2) did not affect the reading of the reflexive (regression path; p<1). Background Reflexive Binding: Reflexives typically take closest potential antecedent: (1a) John asked Bill to wash himself. But the pattern differs for wh-phrases: (1b) Which man did John ask to wash himself? Binding conditions apply rapidly in realtime (Sturt 2003) Gaps: Syntacticians hypothesize null element (gap) linked to wh- phrase is present in these sentences’ representations So the reflexive corefers with the gap as normal: (1c) Which man did John ask __ to wash himself? Locally coherent substring (did…himself?) (Tabor et. al 2004 et seq.) may cause parser to experience confusion and retrieve ungrammatical, but feature-matched, antecedent (Konieczny et al. 2010, cf. Wagers 2009) Question: Are these gaps present in the representation the parser builds in realtime (e.g Aoshima et al. 2004; contra Pickering & Barry 1991 et seq.)? X X X * *


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