Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 239–250 | Cite as

Parallel parsing: Evidence from reactivation in garden-path sentences

  • Gregory Hickok
Article

Abstract

An all-visual, on-line, lexical priming technique was used to investigate whether the human sentence processor computes syntactic representations serially or in parallel. Structurally ambiguous garden-path sentences such as the following were studied: “The psychologist told the wife that the man bumpedthat her car was stolen.” Despite the strong preference for the sentential-complement reading of the ambiguous region (italicized), a reactivation effect for the head of the relative clause (wife) was observed immediately following the presentation of the embedded verb (bumped), suggesting that the relative clause analysis is also computed. This finding is taken as evidence for parallel parsing since both possible analyses were shown to have a processing reflection simultaneously: Computation of the sentential-complement analysis was demonstrated by the fact that readers garden-path when that analysis turns out to be incorrect, and computation of the relative clause analysis was demonstrated by the reactivation effect.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Altmann, G., & Steedman, M. (1988). Interaction with context during human sentence processing.Cognition, 30, 191–238.Google Scholar
  2. Crain, S., & Steedman, M. (1985). On not being led up the garden path: The use of context by the psychological syntax processor. In D. R. Dowty, L. Karttunen, & A. M. Zwicky (Eds.),Natural language parsing: Psychological, computational, and theoretical perspectives. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Ferreira, F., & Clifton, C. (1986). The independence of syntactic processing.Journal of Memory and Language, 25, 348–368.Google Scholar
  4. Francis, W. N., & Kucera, H. (1982).Frequency analysis of English usage: Lexicon and grammar. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.Google Scholar
  5. Frazier, L. (1987). Theories of sentence processing. In J. L. Garfield (Ed.),Modularity in knowledge representation and natural-language understanding. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  6. Frazier, L., & Fodor, J. D. (1978). The sausage machine: A new two-stage parsing model.Cognition, 6, 291–325.Google Scholar
  7. Gibson, E. (1991).A computational theory of human linguistic processing: Memory limitations and processing breakdown. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh.Google Scholar
  8. Gorrell, P. (1989). Establishing the loci of serial and parallel effects in syntactic processing.Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 18, 61–73.Google Scholar
  9. Hickok, G. (1991).Gaps and garden paths: Studies on the architecture and computational machinery of the human sentence processor. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA.Google Scholar
  10. Kurtzman, H. (1985).Studies in syntactic ambiguity resolution. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA. (Distributed by the Indiana University Linguistics Club.)Google Scholar
  11. Nicol, J. (1989). What the parser knows about the grammar: Psycholinguistic evidence.Proceedings of WCCFL VIII.Google Scholar
  12. Pritchett, B. L. (1988). Garden path phenomena and the grammatical basis of language processing.Language, 64, 539–576.Google Scholar
  13. Swinney, D. A. (1991). The resolution of indeterminacy during language comprehension: Perspectives on modularity in lexical, structural, and pragmatic processing. In G. B. Simpson (Ed.),Understanding word and sentence. N. Holland: Elsevier Science Publishers B. V.Google Scholar
  14. Swinney, D., Ford, M., Frauenfelder, U., & Bresnan, J. (1988). On the temporal course of gap-filling and antecedent assignment during sentence comprehension. Cited in Nicol, J., & Swinney, D. (1989). The role of structure in coreference assignment during sentence comprehension.Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 18, 5–19.Google Scholar
  15. Swinney, D. A., & Osterhout, L. (1990). Inference generation during auditory language comprehension.The Psychology of Learning and Motivation, 25, 17–33.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gregory Hickok
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory for Cognitive NeuroscienceThe Salk Institute for Biological StudiesSan Diego

Personalised recommendations