Accessibility navigation


Variable binding and coreference in sentence comprehension: evidence from eye movements

Cunnings, I., Patterson, C. and Felser, C. (2014) Variable binding and coreference in sentence comprehension: evidence from eye movements. Journal of Memory and Language, 71 (1). pp. 39-59. ISSN 0749-596X

[img]
Preview
Text (Open Access) - Published Version
· Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.
· Please see our End User Agreement before downloading.

530kB

It is advisable to refer to the publisher's version if you intend to cite from this work. See Guidance on citing.

To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.jml.2013.10.001

Abstract/Summary

The hypothesis that pronouns can be resolved via either the syntax or the discourse representation has played an important role in linguistic accounts of pronoun interpretation (e.g. Grodzinsky & Reinhart, 1993). We report the results of an eye-movement monitoring study investigating the relative timing of syntactically-mediated variable binding and discourse-based coreference assignment during pronoun resolution. We examined whether ambiguous pronouns are preferentially resolved via either the variable binding or coreference route, and in particular tested the hypothesis that variable binding should always be computed before coreference assignment. Participants’ eye movements were monitored while they read sentences containing a pronoun and two potential antecedents, a c-commanding quantified noun phrase and a non c-commanding proper name. Gender congruence between the pronoun and either of the two potential antecedents was manipulated as an experimental diagnostic for dependency formation. In two experiments, we found that participants’ reading times were reliably longer when the linearly closest antecedent mismatched in gender with the pronoun. These findings fail to support the hypothesis that variable binding is computed before coreference assignment, and instead suggest that antecedent recency plays an important role in affecting the extent to which a variable binding antecedent is considered. We discuss these results in relation to models of memory retrieval during sentence comprehension, and interpret the antecedent recency preference as an example of forgetting over time.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM)
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Clinical Language Sciences
ID Code:35306
Uncontrolled Keywords:Pronoun resolution; Eye movements; Reading; Memory retrieval
Publisher:Elsevier

Downloads

Downloads per month over past year

University Staff: Request a correction | Centaur Editors: Update this record

Page navigation