Prosodic Breaks and Attachment Decisions in Sentence Parsing

  • Pynte J
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Abstract

The role of prosodic breaks (PB) in the parsing of locally ambiguous NP+ V + NP + PP French sentences was examined in four word monitoring experiments. The presence of a PB after the verb was shown to hinder the VP-attachment interpretation (# The spies inform # the guards of the conspiracy #), whereas the presence of a second PB in front of the PP seemed to neutralise the effect of the first break (# The spies inform # the guards # of the conspiracy #). Moreover, the second PB apparently produced a greater effect when the verb's argument structure conflicted with the actual attachment of the PP (i.e. when the sequence of words used in the sentence required an NP-attachment in the case of a ditransitive verb like ''to inform", and a VP-attachment in the case of a monotransitive verb like ''to choose"). These results clearly indicate that PBs can influence sentence parsing. Possible mechanisms are discussed in the framework of Frazier's (1987) garden-path model and Perfetti's (1990) restricted interactive model. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR] Copyright of Language & Cognitive Processes is the property of Psychology Press (UK) and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)

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Authors

  • Joel Pynte

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